You will see there that the word derives from the Greek and Latin sense of “practical work.” Gratitude as a practice is indeed practical work. It takes work. It takes practice.
As such, it connotes the many meanings of practice found in the dictionary. Think about gratitude as you read these definitions, because it might change the way you understand gratitude. It did for me, or at least it reminded me of some old lessons.
Gratitude is a proficiency that must be practiced. It is a habit, a custom, a customary performance, meaning that gratitude should be developed in the doing, like running or martial arts or playing violin. Or, it is a custom or habit similar to other cultural customs such as greeting rituals, exchanging presents on holidays, and prayers before meals. I like the idea of practice as a drill, so that you drill gratitude into yourself the way you drill scales on a piano or a soldier is at drill practice; you do a thing until it becomes innate.
On St. Patrick’s day, twenty-five years ago, I officially “got sober.” That meant I started practicing the attitude of gratitude. Because it is a practice, you can make mistakes, forget, drop it all together, and then pick it up again. I’ve forgotten to do my regular gratitudes in my blog, but I can resume my practice at any time.
Here are some of the loosely paraphrased definitions of the noun form: