I listened to a Christmas Eve podcast of NPR’s “On Point”. Dacher Keltner, co-founder of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, was discussing the positive benefits of expressing gratitude.
New research is validating an old wisdom. Money, power and station in life cannot buy happiness. In fact, the pursuit of material possessions can increase stress, anxiety and affect health adversely.
The antidote to materialism is to shift your mindset and express gratitude for the things you have. Perhaps what you already have is enough to provide contentment. There is a difference between need and want. Most of us want so much, but actually need so little.
Studies of the neuroscience of positive emotions conclude that activities that benefit your pro-social nervous system result in a happier attitude, healthier immune system and better sleep patterns.
These activities include experiences in beauty and awe. Where better to find experiences of beauty and awe than in our own natural world.
Instead of acquiring a never ending mound of consumer goods, why not pursue experiences in nature. Spend some of that money on a wilderness trip, an outdoor hiking adventure or rafting down a white water river. The opportunities are endless. Studies have proven that experiences have a longer lasting positive memory than the purchase of yet another consumer item. An experience can last a life time. The newness of a new consumer item seldom lasts longer than a few days.
Gratitude is the social glue that holds communities together. Being grateful for the gifts you have and the folks you know is good for your soul. People have a large capacity to express gratitude in situations of crisis.
The earth is entering an era of climatic and ecological crisis. It is time to express gratitude to our home, the earth. We should be grateful for the gifts the earth has provided and show that gratitude in our relationship to nature. We can give back by being good stewards and conserving our natural resources.
Most important we can express our love for the earth and the natural world in which we live. The diversity of animals and plants are a special gift, a sacred gift to be cherished, not plundered.
Get out there and be amazed…