It can be difficult to find news to be thankful for in the U.S. media and political landscape. We’ve surfaced from two divisive primary campaign cycles and now settle to look toward the U.S.’s future–as we also honor our Independence. This July 4th, let’s take a break from the angry rhetoric to show gratitude to those who have helped provide us with continued freedom in the U.S.
While we often see gratitude as basic, there has been a wealth of research completed on it, delving into what gratitude is and how it benefits humans. The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence states, “gratitude is a state of mind that arises when you affirm a good thing in your life that comes from outside yourself.” At the core of gratitude is the concept that no matter our circumstances, we can find good things in the world for which to be thankful. These might be as small as a traffic-free drive to work or as large as the loved ones in our lives.
- increased positive emotions
- heightened life satisfaction
- improved sleep
- lower blood pressure
- healthier immune systems
- increased physical activity
- stronger relationships with loved ones
The list of benefits goes on. But while we all know we need gratitude, recognizing moments to be grateful can be more difficult. The most important starting point for cultivating gratitude comes from simply pausing to note what we have to be thankful for and writing these thoughts down or telling others you’re thankful. For strategies on cultivating gratitude visit UC Berkley.
But what does gratitude have to do with patriotism? Patriotism has been understood and valued differently over the years. However, patriotism always has common components: love for country and a willingness to act for your country’s good.
Whether patriotism is good or bad has been debated for decades. Some believe patriotism leads to prejudice; while others believe patriotism is necessary to create citizenship. In fact, Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy provides 5 different types of patriotism that are all seen as good and bad.
One of Stanford’s patriotism types emphasizes the place of gratitude in being patriotic. In this type, patriotism is something that arises from our sense of gratitude for what our country has given us. I don’t want to argue this is the best patriotism, but I do think it is important to recognize gratitude’s place in modern patriotism. Just as gratitude is central to building our personal relationships; gratitude can play a part in helping us take pride in our country and in helping our country unite.
We can all think of small things to be thankful for in our personal lives. But this July 4th, let’s consider the many blessings we each have been given by living in the United States of America. And let’s not forget to thank all those who have made our freedom possible. As Americans, we have concerns. But we also live in a nation which holds life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable rights. We struggle to obtain all these values, but this July 4th, let’s show gratitude for their remaining central place in the U.S. Through gratitude, we can improve our own health and well being—and find common values in which those from all political viewpoints can take pride.