Gratitude — What is it really?

Published by Hannah Hansen on

Have you ever really thought about the definition of gratitude? When I think about gratitude, my mind goes straight to simply thinking “thankfulness.” And while that’s true, Oxford Languages defines gratitude as, “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” 

Did you catch that second part? “Readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Whoa. That hits me differently. It’s not just being or feeling thankful. It’s a readiness to do something — to show appreciation and return the kindness. 

When we are truly displaying an attitude of gratitude (as the saying goes), we aren’t just reacting to kindness done to us with a simple “Thank you,” we are proactively readying ourselves to show appreciation and return kindness done to us. 

When I read this definition, I think of Romans 12. In this portion of the letter, Paul is encouraging the Christians in Rome and laying out ways to love each other well. 

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:9-10

That last sentence is what gets me — outdo one another. That sounds a lot like gratitude — returning the kindness. It reminds me of those “Pay It Forward” challenges. You know, one person in the drive thru line at Starbucks paid for the person behind them, and then they paid for the person behind them, and on and on until someone posts it on the internet and it goes viral! 

Think of the viral effect truly showing gratitude could have on our world! By proactively being ready to return the kindness, not only are we looking out for the good in our life, but we’re extending it to the people around us as well. I’m taking the rest of this year and focusing on being ready to extend kindness, to return kindness, to truly have an attitude of gratitude in my everyday life with those around me! Join me!