In a previous article, I described the “dimensions of gratitude” as Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Transpersonal. I will now focus on Interpersonal Gratitude, the thanks we have for other people in our lives.
It’s highly likely that we have received much benefit from many people in every phase of our lives. Our infancy and early childhood had constant need for parental and para-parental care and concern. In our school years, there were teachers and other caretakers who helped our development. By High School, there was likely a teacher or two who excited our interest in one field or another.
Our family and peers probably played an important role. We may have been excited to develop a special interest and/or mentored through difficulties by a special, caring person. We were the recipients of givingness.
The success of society and community is based on webs of cooperation (including people we are not acquainted with). Gratitude is intertwined with the will to cooperate, and has been called “societal glue.” We give a courtesy, receive a courtesy, and we are “all in this together.”
I’d like to emphasize the benefit of expressing our gratitude. “Thank you,” verbalized when any benefits are received, is common in community. All cultures have words for it. Written thanks are highly recommended to individuals who have been lastingly helpful. When we write down our gratitudes in the form of a journal, it is particularly beneficial.
Expressing gratitude renders us happy. Scientific studies have been conducted using a technique called functional MRI (fMRI). fMRI can detect changes in activity and blood supply to specific centers in our brain. What they found was that when a subject expressed deep gratitude, there was activation of brain centers rich in dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. These are neurotransmitters described as “pro-social,” “pro-pleasure.”
Gratitude leads to positive emotions. Additionally, gratitude is a Relaxor, and induces the Relaxation Response, which suppresses the Stress Response. It helps to have intervals of gratitude in times of stress.
In summary, Interpersonal Gratitude is a response to benefits we have received from others. Expressing our gratitude elevates the state of mind of the receiver and the giver. One of the very best things we could do with our gratitude is pay it forward, in the form of acts of kindness, generosity, and love.
The two words, savor and sacred, seem to be missing in our vocabulary and in our contemporary life. The word “savory” is mostly used to describe food that is delicious and tasty. However, “to savor” can describe how we choose to focus on something positive, beautiful, and impactful with all of our senses of sight, smell, hearing, and feeling. It is as if you are inhaling emotionally into your innermost being something that awakens your essence in every cell of your body.
The word “sacred” can refer to our beliefs and/or feelings about something of great value that may be personal, cultural, religious, or spiritual, which is worthy of veneration. Here are a few examples.
The ancient Hawaiians had a strong relationship with the stars and constellations in the heavens and also with the oceans, which they depended upon for their survival as islanders. Over generations they studied the stars and constellations and their movements in the heavens. They also had great knowledge of the oceans, the waves, the currents and seasonal patterns. Their religious deities emerged from their relationship with the heavens and ocean. They would pray to their sacred deities and ask for help, especially on their long ocean voyages sailing to far-away shores. They would connect with their deities through prayer, through festivities, and with gratitude for keeping them safe. Their deities had divine powers.
Another example of that which was and still is sacred is the culture and beliefs of the American Indians in their respect and reverence for the lands they have inhabited and worshiped for generations. They treasure the mountains, the rivers and lakes, the forests and plains, the wildlife and all the plant life that gives them food, shelter, and protection. They show deep respect for the spirits of the animals they hunt and kill for food. They savor the meat and celebrate the hunt with prayer, ceremony and spiritual gratitude. They understand and appreciate their inter-dependence with all aspects of nature and hold sacred the circle of all life.
Across many cultures and religions, there are sacred objects, recordings, ancient writings, jewelry, icons, and precious stones. There is a sacred vibrational energy that can emanate from objects that may be religious, historical, of personal and/or cultural value.
In Judaism, there is the Torah, which contains the five Books of Moses. They believe that God gave the Torah to Moses. It was handwritten in Hebrew without punctuation, and it contains the history of the Jewish people, as well as their behavioral commandments. The Torah is chanted when read during a service. They so treasure the Torah that to destroy a Torah is equivalent to a homicide.
In the U.S., there are numerous Christian religious groups that have honored, worshipped and celebrated the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ. In our past, people took time to savor the beauty of the religious holidays, to sit quietly listening to the religious music and the special homilies, and to attend the beautifully decorated churches and cathedrals. There are great sacred works of Christian art, sculptures, and artifacts that have been handed down through the centuries. These days, so much of the Chr