One of my favorite seasons of parenting was when my children were preschoolers. Inevitably there is a magical door that all three-year-olds open that leads them into a world of curiosity and exploration. And with this entrance comes a question that they will ask for the rest of their lives, “Why?”.
Have you gone there with your child or spent time with an inquisitive little person before? Have you been asked over and over again “Why?”. Although during this time the question can feel monotonous the fascination with desiring to understand is remarkable.
Throughout our entire life asking “Why?” is the passageway to moving beyond ourselves, breaking down barriers and growing our consciousness. It is the cause of innovation, the impetus for invention and the foundation of achievement. In relationships, asking why allows us to know one another and understand our differences. It is essential for empathy to manifest and compassion to flourish. Without this simple question, we remain stuck in our viewpoints, looking at life through a small hole in a fence.
I have always loved understanding the Why behind things. As a matter of fact, this curiosity with life and relationships is what drove me to study social science. I was compelled to understand the why behind human behavior. I wanted to comprehend our emotional, psychological and spiritual experiences in relationship with ourselves, others, and the world around us. I wanted to know why some people barely make it through life while others run full force to the end?
There are a variety of components to that answer, but a common thread through it all is gratitude. Gratitude is a mindset and a heartset that views life through the lens of thankfulness. It doesn’t take life or others for granted. It acknowledges that we aren’t meant to exist successfully alone—for when anything or anyone outside of us contributes to our greater good it is cause for appreciation.
Now, the concept of gratitude or being thankful gets thrown around a lot, maybe to the point where it begins to lose its impact. We hear about gratitude journals, setting gratitude intentions, finding something we can be grateful for in every day. Just like other powerful words such as love and forgiveness, gratitude can begin to fall on deaf ears.
The best remedy to bring anything forgotten back to our attention is curiosity. Asking the question “Why?”
“Why do I need to be grateful?”
When we ask why gratitude is so impactful research tells us that being thankful makes us feel better. Studies confirm that life looks more optimistic when you can see the good. And, positively acknowledging others gives affection and affirmation back to us. Even trauma research concludes that when terrible experiences are connected to our growth and greater good we heal faster and more completely.
Consistently seeing the good allows us to frame the world as a better place, making life more satisfying. None of this is derived from a Pollyanna attitude or pie in the sky optimism. These are real scientific results. Gratitude changes how we live.
These are all compelling reasons to focus on gratitude, and if this is enough for you, please feel free to stop reading right here.
But, if you’re like me, you may still be asking why? And, if so, read on, because this next piece of information is profound.
In 2011 I read an intriguing little book titled A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen. The premise is that complaining not only brings you down; it also has the power to take the world around you down with you. The opposite of gratitude, complaining seeks to find the negative around us and it is an easy emotional vibe to hang out in. Next time you get together with people, notice how much of the conversation is driven by problem saturated topics and how charged up people get off that energy. This negativity focus is a strong predictor of health and relationship problems, connected to illness, depression, anxiety and even divorce.
New neuroscience research helps us understand how this is possible.
According to Moran Cerf, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University, as people come together and relate with one another their brainwaves sync up and begin to work in tandem. When in each other’s presence we begin to physically mirror one another’s emotional state. So, the people we spend time with and the emotional state they represent are “catchy”.
If we spend time around those that lift us up with gratitude, our brain will sync with thankfulness and positive outcomes that accompany that thought process. In like fashion, if surrounded by complaining or cynicism, we will mentally manifest that experience.
How we think, and the thinking we expose ourselves to, effects the emotional climate and physical realities of the world around us.
So you see, there’s the Why.
When we start with gratitude, we become the brainwaves that elevate the people around us. When we stay in gratitude, we lift the room and the world. We become the Why behind feeling better, positive and possible. We become contagions of thankfulness, and it can spread fast when we bring it everywhere we go.
That is why you need to pursue gratitude. Not just because you will feel better—it is so much bigger than that. Gratitude has the power to change your world and the world of everyone around you.
Until we meet again—Love each other well
Relationship Reset reveals the secrets to becoming a better couple through exposing valuable information from current research and identifying critical insights that make relating easier.