The Benefits Of Gratitude

With science supporting the idea that being grateful is good for us, three personal stories illustrate the importance of the gift.

Gratitude could save the planet, says filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg.

“If you can really absorb the beauty of a flower or a landscape, can you really bear to see it destroyed?” he asks. “Gratitude touches your heart. And we need the heart to create a shift in consciousness.”

Schwartzberg, who has been shooting time-lapse photography of flowers for more than three decades, showed his “Gratitude” film at a TEDx Talk; it’s among the most-watched presentations.

In it, author, lecturer and Benedictine brother David Steindl-Rast speaks: “You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you, today. … It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. … If you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.”

“People tell me they use [the film] it as a video alarm clock,” Schwartzberg says, meaning it calibrates their day.

Schwartzberg, who works in Studio City, is making a longer version of that film and another on bats, butterflies, bees and hummingbirds — the pollinators — that help produce one-third of our food. Nature, he says, teaches mindfulness, and the lessons learned lead to gratitude.

Look, really look, at a cloud, a stream, a strawberry, he urges. “Instead of gobbling it while you’re reading the paper, say, ‘Oh, my God,’ ” and take the time to be in awe of it.

-By Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times mary.macvean@latimes.com

 

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