MANNERSMATTERS - Honey Jarque Loop (The Freeman) - February 4, 2015 - 12:00am

My article today  is not about the dos and don'ts of good manners, but rather centered on gratitude. Studies have shown that gratitude can improve well-being, physical health, strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotional states and help us cope  with stressful times  in our lives.

Since the beginning of time, we humans have recognized the good feeling that comes from being appreciated.

The notion of gratitude is just as timeless. Gratitude is that sense of thanks one has for blessings or gifts received for which nothing is expected in return. We may want to return the favor someday but it is not anticipated or required.

It is always our conscious choice which path to take… We can choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives  and be grateful for the abundance that is present - family, friends, health, love, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us joy and happiness.

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting our blessings, noticing simple pleasures and acknowledging everything that we receive.

Gratitude is an important part of our appreciation of life. It shows a graciousness and respect for others, for our blessings and the experiences and lessons that come our way. Being grateful means that everything that happens to us is seen to have a value. Gratitude demonstrates the wisdom to respect that insight.

I am grateful not only for the gift of friendship, but also for those who have disappointed  me because of the many lessons of life that they have brought, honing my appreciation  of those who walk their talk and live up to their spiritual words.

We need to be grateful for every good thing that happens in our lives. Through the years we have learned to be grateful for many obvious things. We express gratitude for kindness bestowed, educational opportunities not anticipated and all the good times and friends we experienced in the course of living.

Gratitude not only heals, it revitalizes the body. Look around you, and notice someone's face that has been ravaged by years of anger, resentment and envy. They will look drawn and haggard. Then look at individuals who have lived their  lives in gratitude. They will be glowing with health and joy.

I am grateful for the times spent with those I love and I am equally grateful for the times of estrangement and disagreement that reflect new lessons to learn and insights to be discerned.

I thank God that I can begin each day with peace. And when things are not quite right, I am thankful for the courage that allows me to take risks and believing in myself which is the most important strength one can ever have.

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