What, exactly, is gratitude?
It seems like an emotion, doesn’t it? — Like the emotional riverbed that the action of saying “thank you” flows from.
But there is no universal expression that conveys the experience of gratitude. Our faces communicate when we are happy, sad, surprised, afraid — but there is no gratitude emoji.
The words grace, gratitude and gratify share a common root in both the Biblical languages as well as Latin and English.
And to be grateful is an incredibly gratifying experience.
It tastes good, it feels good to be thankful.
So why does it not come more naturally?
“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.’”
- Luke 17:11-18
Recent neuroscience has discovered what we’ve kind of suspected anyway for a very long time — embedded in the human condition is a negativity bias. Our brains are physiologically attracted to the negative — and that the numbers in this story of the lepers are pretty close — we are 10x more likely to remember when we have been slighted than we are likely to remember when we have been blessed.
We are drawn to the negative. We have to choose the positive.
This reality is true in how we approach our relationships — our primary relationship, the one that exists between us and our Source; as well as our secondary relationships, the ones that exist between us and those closest to us.
Join us this Sunday as we consider the important role that gratitude plays in our relationships.