Gratitude is often thought of as a passive emotion, something that washes over you or overcomes you in moments of realization or reflection. It is usually used as a synonym for thankfulness, a way of describing a feeling. A longtime mentor, a man in whom I have confided and from whom I have received guidance over the years, taught me that gratitude is better thought of as an action word.
Gratitude, he explained to me many years ago, is expressed through one’s behavior. If you are truly grateful, show it by doing something that reflects that feeling. If you are grateful for family, spend time with them, give them attention and affection, and tell them you love them. If you are grateful for friends, be there for them in times of need, support their dreams, comfort them in loss, and celebrate their wins. If you are grateful for your job, show up early, do more than is expected of you, and help those around you to be successful.
Gratitude is the opposite of selfishness. It is the expression of abundance through giving back. Gratitude is shown through graciousness, compassion, and charity. It is the filling of the cup of another when yours runs over. If you feel thankful, if you are grateful, if you are blessed, as so many people are fond of saying these days, show, don’t tell.
Give of yourself and your time. Most of all, if you are filled with gratitude in your life and someone asks something of you, don’t balk, don’t resist, don’t make excuses. Show your gratitude for whatever good fortune you have by saying yes and making your abundance someone else’s as well. There is enough to go around.