Let’s live a happier life in gratitude

From Pratiksha Apurv's desk Media Watch

Gratefulness is true communion with existence, writes Pratiksha Apurv. Published in Times of India and Speaking Tree on September 30, 2020.

Times of India

Gratefulness, Painting by Pratiksha Apurv
‘Gratefulness’ by Pratiksha Apurv, 42×42″, Oil on canvas, 2007

Our well-being in testing times is linked to both physical and mental health. Greater happiness is now needed more than ever before and that is precisely the reason why we should start our day by thanking existence for this priceless gift called life.

When we look at the trees, mountains, rivers, the whole of nature outside of our home, one thing in common is that all seem to be full of life, yet as though in deep, silent prayer. We feel speechless, with a deep sense of gratitude. Prayer exists in the inner realm, at the very core of our centre. Researchers are now discovering that the sense of gratefulness not only has a profound impact on our overall health; it also helps in reducing depression, anxiety and in treating sleep disorders.

Professor Alex Wood and his team with Jeffrey Froh and Adam Geraghty in 2010 published a paper titled ‘Gratitude and Well-Being: A Review and Theoretical Integration’. They concluded that gratitude is related to a variety of clinically relevant phenomena, including psychopathology depression, adaptive personality characteristics, positive social relationships, and physical health, particularly stress and sleep.

The paper also quoted a study conducted on a community of 247 people who were showing signs of excessive worrying and anxiety disorder. Through controlled gratitude intervention, they found that a sense of gratitude was effective in reducing both body dissatisfaction and excessive worry. The researchers also quoted a previous study conducted in 2003 by Emmons and McCullough, where participants were asked to maintain a daily list of events for which they were grateful, including even just waking up in the morning. The study clearly concluded that ‘gratitude is strongly related to well-being.’

Krishna in the Bhagwad Gita said to Arjuna, “Tam eva sharanam gachchha sarva-bhavena bharata, Tat-prasadat param shantim sthanam prapsyasi shashvatam– Hey Arjuna, your whole being needs to surrender for the gift of peace, happiness and that eternal abode.” The surrender Krishna is talking about is deep gratitude towards existence, towards life and all the other valuable things it has given us.

When we thank the trees for the breeze in the morning, it becomes prayer and our being turns into pure gratitude. When we see misery, pain and suffering today, we should try helping someone who needs help. This action could bring joy to someone. Just like existence, we have many things in abundance and a sense of thankfulness can change our life. Osho observed that gratitude arises, whenever we start feeling God’s presence all around, and that moment transforms our whole energy into gratitude and our whole being becomes a thanksgiving.

We should never think about existence’s gift to us in terms of quantity – big or small. Sant Kabir said, “Tinka kabhu na nindiye – We should not even show disrespect to a speck of dust.” This is a deep message that everything around has its own value. We need to acknowledge that everything existence is offering us has the potential to bring harmony and balance in life. Gratefulness is true communion with existence and perhaps the only fragrance of the heart. We should be grateful for breathing, for being helped, and for the abundance. Let this feeling of deep gratitude become our intrinsic nature. And, slowly we will realise that all our complaints simply disappear, leaving us in an ocean of joy, celebration and total bliss.

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Pratiksha Apurv

Pratiksha Apurv is a painter and writer. She lives and works in Pune. www.pratikshaart.com

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