06/06/2012 03:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why Gratitude Makes Us Cry

A chip on your shoulder is no match for a heart full of gratitude.

Check out the following iconic scenes from:

"As Good As It Gets,"

and "Field of Dreams."


Why is it that at the moment we feel overwhelmed with gratitude, we cry?

Too often and at any given moment in life, too many of us feel that something is wrong, bad or missing from our lives. That gap draws our attention and unfortunately doesn't bring out the best in us when we are trying to fill it. Instead, we frequently come off as needy, hurt, demanding and/or entitled. Or even worse, we anticipate that our request or need will be rejected or ridiculed and that makes us appear even more brittle or rigid when we are making that request or looking for that help, assistance or caring. And that brittleness can trigger a reciprocal discomfort in the other person, which takes the conversation to an even more awkward place.

If, however, we are met with gratitude (especially from someone who doesn't give it as seen in the "As Good As It Gets" video clip) or with deeply tender and long-sought-after caring (as seen in the "Field of Dreams" video clip), and for a moment the gap is eliminated and along with it the deep ache, the feeling of completeness and wholeness causes us to tear up with relief.

Not only that, but we discover that it is psychologically and emotionally impossible at the same moment in time to feel deep and sincerely-felt gratitude and that there is anything wrong, bad or missing from your life. And if you can remember another person's act of kindness toward you and hold onto those grateful feelings, they will spontaneously turn into a cup that runneth over instead of one that is half-filled.

And the takeaway for you?

If you start each day remembering someone who stood up for you in public to an adversary (when you weren't able to), stood by you in a crisis and stood up to you in private to prevent you from doing something foolish, you will begin your day on the right foot filled with gratitude instead of the left foot filled with disappointment, hurt and resentment.

To add some icing to the cake, why not reach out to those people or their next of kin and give them a Power Thank You?

For more by Mark Goulston, M.D., click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.