Monday, October 26, 2009

The Tree of Gratitude

People often talk about being grateful for their blessings or making gratitude lists. More challenging is the suggestion that we be grateful for the hard times. All this talk about gratitude has become so common that it's easy to lose sight of how far-reaching the concepts are. I wanted to take a look at the underlying richness of gratitude. What are its roots? What other concepts are connected to gratitude -- maybe concepts I'm not aware of? How can these concepts deepen my understanding of gratitude?

First, then, a look at the roots of the word. The Latin word gratus means pleasing, beloved, agreeable, favourable and thankful. Through time, new words and shades of meaning have grown from that ancient beginning: grace, grateful, gratify, gratis, gratitude, gratuity, agree, congratulate, disgrace, ingrate, ingratiate and maugre (which means "in spite of"). In addition, the Indo-European root of gratus gave rise to the word "bard," meaning "he who praises." - Funk & Wagnall's Canadian College Dictionary and Dictionary of the English Language

Every human utterance is an expression of some experience, thought, feeling or action. The words that have grown from gratus are deeply rooted and closely intertwined. Take a look at how these word-cousins show up in daily life...
Most people feel grateful when a beloved or otherwise agreeable person shows them a kindness. We appreciate favourable words when we are congratulated for an accomplishment. We might even praise that person or the gift. The giver of the gift often feels gratified to have given it and to know the gift was pleasing. On top of all that, we are often encouraged to express gratitude in spite of circumstances that don't seem to be so favourable. Sometimes we're able to accept disappointment with good grace. Doing so can also be gratifying -- at some point, anyway, even if not right way.
I encourage you to ponder the universality and gifts of gratus. Notice its presence in your thoughts and emotions. Express it in response to your daily experiences. Share it with others. Stop and acknowledge what is pleasing and favourable to you now. Let the roots of gratitude grow deeper inside you.

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