This morning, just after 12.30 am an Air Canada plane carrying 150 souls crashed on landing in very bad weather at a Nova Scotia airport. Air Canada called it a "hard landing." The 25 people who ended up in hospital, and those who managed to get out safely and wait in below freezing weather for help might prefer to call it a crash. The plane is heavily damaged, and no doubt those passengers are feeling sore and significantly jarred.
The event followed on from a dreadful crash this week in the Swiss Alps, where a depressed pilot locked his captain out of the cabin, and deliberately flew the plane into the mountains. There were no survivors, no intact bodies, and just small pieces of the planes strewn about like confetti. I could hardly bear to think about the pain their families would go through.
What Is Gratitude?
And in the second crash one of the family members expressed his concern for the mother of the pilot who had taken all those lives, feeling grateful he would not have to go through her pain of knowing the murders he had caused.
It started me wondering what gratitude really is? Is it possible that if we all had more of it, less horror, less wars, more kindness to others, and even a whole new and improved world would emerge?
Joining The Scientists
Also, those who practiced it on a daily basis did not seem to need people in order to establish gratitude as a part of lifestyle.
The closest definition they agreed upon was that it appeared to be a habitual focusing on and appreciation of life.
Their conclusion is that gratitude is strongly related to well-being, but much more research is needed to discover how gratitude may be encouraged in people's lives.
As they delved more deeply into the concept of gratitude, researchers realised that it may be considered a trait, and that people who have this trait tend to have all of 8 trait characteristics:
- They appreciate and believe they have so much to be thankful for in their lives.
- They are thankful for friends and family.
- They are reflective about their good fortune in having friends and basic things like food and shelter.
- They are often awestruck by things like nature and beautiful art.
- Personal and religious rituals are used to remind themselves of their gratitude in life.
- Responses such as "please" and "thank you" express their gratitude to others.
- They have gratitude towards non- social sources in their lives, such as pausing to reflect on their gratitude. In other words they stop to smell the roses.
- They understand that nothing is permanent, and live life to the fullest. Included in this is gratitude for their social standing when they compare their lot with others
Optimism and Gratitude - Different
Optimism is nice, but isn't the same thing as gratitude, because it's not specific, just hopeful about things in the future. Scientists now believe gratitude has a strong link to mental AND physical health. It appears to be almost opposite to a negative life orientation, which leads to depression.
Building Your Gratitude
They have often chosen to continue with this practice after completion of the study, and research shows that the beneficial effects continue for up to six months after their participation.