How I Found My Way to Gratitude

Whether you think of it as the “greatest virtue,” as Cicero did, or “social glue,” as researchers do, gratitude has the power to change your life, if you let it. Kelly Barron shares how she learned to let gratitude change her.

Photograph by Melanie Defazio/ Stocksy

I haven’t always been grateful. Sure, I gave gratitude lip service on Thanksgiving. Surrounded by family, friends, and bountiful food I shared, I was grateful for… family, friends, and bountiful food. But I didn’t feel it in my bones.

Over the years, I made gratitude lists, but they didn’t make me feel more thankful. As a result, I’ve come to view gratitude like a greeting card—nice, but paper-made and a little clichéd. And yet, there’s much in my life to feel thankful for. And as a longtime meditator and mindfulness teacher, I’m aware of the lofty place gratitude holds in the pantheon of positive emotions. Contentment is pleasant. Joy is delightful. But gratitude is the mother lode.

Research shows gratitude positively shifts mindsets and moods, prevents burnout, and boosts self-esteem. One study found grateful cardiac patients slept better, experienced less fatigue, and had lower levels of inflammation.
Cicero called gratitude “the greatest virtue” for fostering patience, generosity, wisdom, and humility. Researchers call gratitude a social glue that bonds us in friendship and appreciation.

Who wouldn’t want to feel more grateful?

I realized if I wanted a closer relationship with gratitude, I’d need to deepen my understanding, become more…

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About the author

Kelly Barron

Kelly Barron is a freelance writer in Los Angeles and a former associate editor and staff writer for Forbes magazine. She is a mindfulness instructor for eMindful Inc. and also teaches mindfulness for UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center.