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gratitude, and neuroscience.

Grateful Patriotism



As America gets ready to celebrate her 243rd birthday, a recent conversation with a dear friend comes to mind as she quoted Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, “breathe my dear.” Easy to say, hard to do, especially in our critic-fueled culture, 24/7 hustle, and social media overload. But “breathe” we must in order to connect with the true celebration of the patriotism and freedoms this day represents.



Imagine the deep sense of gratitude that filled Independence Hall as our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. If we stop long enough to breathe in that moment, we can begin to appreciate the sacrifices made by thousands of men, women, and children that culminated with the signing.

Patriotism is of itself an act of gratitude!

Photo by Sam LeVan


Before we drape ourselves in the red, white, and blue and start posting pictures of what we ate at our 4th of July picnic, let’s breathe in the dictionary definition of patriotism – “the devoted love, support and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.” Are we not then, the beneficiaries of patriotism?





Photo by Brianna Santellan




In his book, Gratitude Works! (2013) Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., describes gratitude as an affirmation of goodness and a recognition of goodness outside of ourselves. Through a profound appreciation of what is good in our lives we can achieve greater awareness of the resources and people who have contributed to our freedom and independence.

Photo by Aaron Burden


Expressing grateful patriotism this Independence Day can take on many different forms. Here are a few prompts to get your gratitude practice going:

  • Consider one freedom you enjoy today. Specifically describe how you have benefited, and the sacrifices made to ensure this freedom. You can choose to write this down in a notebook/journal, mindfully reflect on this freedom, or simply share this discussion with family, friends, or work colleagues.
  • Consider a second freedom you enjoy today and repeat the above.
  • What past 4th of July holiday is most memorable to you? Describe in detail what made it a special remembrance.
  • Do you know someone who has or is currently serving our country or your community? What opportunity do you have to express gratitude to them? How and when will you do this? For this prompt you may want to consider writing a letter of gratitude, thought to be one of the most meaningful ways to practice gratitude (even if they have passed away.)

For a gratitude letter template email me at lburton@drwcoaching.com Or, consider buying a copy of Gratitude Heals – A Journal for Inspiration and Guidance on Amazon. The same template is available in the Resource Section and you can continue on this grateful journey in the Journal Section of the book.

Gratitude Heals is a 170- page journal designed to help create or sustain a practice of gratitude. Based on the latest research in gratitude, neuroscience, and positive psychology, translated to adapt to our daily lives, it includes useful coaching and practice techniques, inspirational quotes, references, and resources. Gratitude Heals made the #1 Release in Self- Help and New Age Religion the first week of release. Thank you to those who made the purchase!


A recent study published in Psychological Science suggests we underestimate the positive impact of expressing gratitude to someone and yet, when we do, both the expressers and the recipients experience improvement in their wellbeing. “Expressers significantly underestimated how surprised recipients would be about why expressers were grateful, overestimated how awkward recipients would feel, and underestimated how positive recipients would feel.”




In closing, we wish to express gratitude to our readers. Have a Happy 4th of July! We hope you continue to practice gratitude through the summer months and enjoy the freedoms from sea to shining sea.


Photo by Lucas Sankey




In memorial to Luis G. Alvarez, retired NYPD Bomb Squad Detective. A patriot in his rescue and recovery efforts on the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks.

Photo by Matteo Catanese

Contact us at 410.750.8335, lburton@drwcoaching.com

or follow us on social media _lrburton @lrburton

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