Have you stopped to really think about what the word gratitude means? Gratitude is thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing the simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life with full appreciation and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present.
In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements can stem from the practice of gratitude. There is a scripture in the bible that says ‘there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’ Have you found this to be true? Giving makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress. Showing a thankful spirit also makes individuals more pleasant to be around.
As imperfect humans, we tend to take for granted the good that is already present in our lives. It’s easier to focus on the negative than the positive. What can help? Can you adjust your perspective? When you focus on what is important and put things in the proper perspective, you can enjoy life more fully.
NOTICE AND APPRECIATE EACH DAY’S GIFTS
There’s a gratitude exercise that instructs that you should imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. In addition, you need to start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievements—such as getting the promotion, having a comfortable nest egg saved up, and so on–before allowing yourself to feel gratitude and joy.
Life is filled with uncertainty, things will not always go your way. The difficulty will arise in one form or another. Every challenge we face carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”
THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE
A common method to develop the practice of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal, a concept that was made famous by Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book “Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude”. This exercise basically consists of writing down every day a list of three to ten things for which you are grateful; you can do this first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night. You can write a letter to someone who has really impacted your life but you haven’t properly thanked them (added bonus would be to mail it, who doesn’t enjoy getting a handwritten letter in the mail).
Once you become oriented toward looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations. Today ends the 30 days of thanks, but it doesn’t have to stop here. Keep giving thanks and showing gratitude for the everyday things in life. Make this a practice 365 days a year, and I am sure you will find yourself enjoying the things around you more.