It’s relatively well-known, at this point, that allowing ourselves to feel gratitude is a calming, anxiety-reducing, happiness-inducing, overall psychologically healthful exercise.

Reflecting, meditating, praying, journaling—anything we do to remind ourselves of the wonderful people and things and experiences from which we’ve benefited can be a profitable use of time, even if just for a few minutes a day or periodically throughout the week.

Just as important, though, is what we do with that sense of gratitude once we’ve identified it.

Gratitude exercises are worthwhile unto themselves, but we can harvest even more upside from them if we take things a step further, allowing our gratefulness to inform our goals, beliefs, and behaviors.

Being thankful that someone is in our lives is different from making that person feel appreciated, loved, and respected.

Being thankful for the influence of a belief system, community, or even technology is not the same thing as helping such groups, philosophies, and tools to sustain, develop, and grow.

At times, reinforcing our own sense of happiness and possibility is more than enough: it’s maybe all we can muster and that’s okay.

When we’re in the right place and mindset, though, using those thoughts, realizations, and findings to inform what we do next—where we spend our time, energy, and resources—converts gratitude into grace. It spreads those positive vibes and beneficial outcomes beyond the confines of our internal experiences, reshaping the world in humble, consistent, intentional ways.

If you found value in this essay, consider buying me a coffee :)

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