Gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

-Melody Beattie

Gratitude

We’ve all heard it at one point…

“Be grateful for what’cha have.” 

And, considering the typical scenario that is playing out when that statement is made, I’m sure that being grateful is the last thing on most of our minds when those words are uttered in our direction. 

However, there is a great deal of wisdom in that old (and sometimes annoying) sentiment. 

As you read this, I assume that you are in a calm, relaxed, and reflective frame of mind. If you are not, please take a moment to close your eyes, take a few deep and cleansing breaths, and clear out some space in your head for a bit of thoughtful reflection. Push any negative or nagging thoughts away, because you need that room for a much more important topic…gratitude

“Be grateful for what’cha have.” 

“Be grateful for what’cha have.” 

“Be grateful for what’cha have.” 

I know that it is hard to think about the things we are grateful for, especially when we are running late, we spilled coffee on our lap, and we hear the honking and screaming of fellow frustrated commuters along with the myriad of other piled on frustrations that seem to flood our days. However, even in these moments, there are glimmers of gratitude that can be reflected upon…

  • First and foremost, we can be grateful that we woke up another day to even experience these chaotic daily events.

  • Next, we can be grateful that we have somewhere to be (even though we may show up fashionably late). Be it as an employee, a parent, a friend, whatever the destination, we are valued and we serve an important purpose in the world.

  • As for the coffee, yes. Spilling scolding hot and extremely stainable liquid on our attire is bothersome. Still, we can take a moment to enjoy the warmth of the cup in our hands (from what coffee is left in there, at least), for the gift of coffee scent that will permeate our day (honestly, who doesn’t love the smell of coffee?), and for the excuse to shop for some new threads.

  • Ah, the honking and screaming of fellow frustrated commuters…a particularly rampant experience in the D.C. area! But if we take breath and look at this through another lens, doesn’t it feel good to know that you are a part of something so vast? All around your region and beyond, there are millions upon millions of commuters who share your frustrations and eagerness to get to their destination. You are a part of something big! Isn’t that unspoken connection to the common man something to behold? In addition, doesn’t it feel good to know that you are not the one who is frustrated to the point of needing to honk and mouth off?

  • When we really stop to refocus our lenses on life, we see that there is much to be grateful for. Even through the darkest and most trying of times, there is always something. Big or small, past or present (or even looking ahead to the future), we can always find a connection to humanity, to the universe, to something.

It is that connection and feeling of gratitude (even if it is just a drop of joy in an ocean of unpleasantness) that gives us hope, the ability to keep moving forward, and the light to shine for others. 

 

Why Should I Choose Gratitude?

Those over at The Daily Positive  suggest that there are a number of research-based reasons to make gratitude a daily practice in your life. To name a few, gratitude leads to:

  • increased happiness

  • decreased depression and anxiety

  • increased forgiveness and self-acceptance

What’s more, the folks at Positive Psychology Program provide even more research-based reasons to choose “an attitude of gratitude”. They share studies indicating that the daily practice of gratitude leads to:

  • reduced feelings of envy

  • more resilience and ability to overcome setbacks

  • increased self-esteem

  • strengthened relationships and social desirability

  • increased effectiveness in leadership roles

  • improved decision-making process and outcomes

  • improvement in overall physical and mental health

  • a more fulfilling and delightful life

 

How Do I Choose Gratitude?

Gratitude is a choice. Just as you choose what outfit you’ll wear for the day, you can choose to practice gratitude daily. I have to say, if you are not used to a mindset of gratitude, it can be somewhat of a challenge.  Still, making the choice to be grateful, to recognize those little whispering daily positives and blessings in your life, and to express your gratitude, can be a complete game changer. If you’d like to test this out, check out my one-day gratitude challenge. Yep, ONE DAY. That’s how long it takes to recognize the benefits of practicing gratitude. If you don’t believe me or want to test this theory, try it out!

Another impactful strategy towards an attitude of gratitude is through gaining insight on everyday practice, soaking in daily reminders of gratitude benefits, and following a well-laid out plan.

Start Practicing Daily Gratitude RIGHT NOW:

1.    Create a gratitude box or jar

These are fun to do either alone or with family! Get crafty and paint an old mason jar, shoe box, or just use any container that you’ve been thinking about tossing. Each day, write something you are grateful for on a post-it or piece of paper and slip it into the box. You can go back and read these gratitude gems on days when you are feeling a little less than jazzy.

2.    Start a gratitude journal

Treat yourself to a personal gratitude journal. Typing on a device doesn't quite have the same warming and personal feel of holding your own handpicked journal, its pages waiting JUST for you to fill. You can keep this with in your car, purse, desk, by your bedside, anywhere you’d like. Use the journal to thoughtfully jot down moments, experiences, or anything else that you are grateful for. Write how your life would be a little less joyful without some of these experiences, people, items, etc., and try to go deep in your reflections. Writing not only helps to organize thoughts and strengthen meaning, it also allows us to process and truly savor those moments of happiness. A gratitude journal is a wonderful and personal way to reflect on and internalize all that is good in your life. 

3.    Share with family or friends around the table every night

Take a quick 5 minutes of table time every night. Allow everyone present to share one thing that they are grateful for. They can share something from the day, something that is coming in the future, someone that they are grateful for, a memory, the sky is the limit! This practice instills the power of gratitude in everyone involved, it allows them to share something that they feel is important, it is good for the soul, and it connects all on a deeper level.

4.    Simply say “thank you” when someone is kind towards you in any capacity. Express your gratitude, and truly mean it. Take a moment before or after uttering those two magic words to reflect on why you said them, then notice their reaction when they see and hear your sincerity.

5.    Throughout the day, take a quick minute or two to notice your surroundings and to fill your senses. This mindful act of noticing and appreciating your surroundings will remind you to stay grounded, will connect you with the world around you, will give you clarity and peace of mind, and will reinvigorate your mind, body, and soul. 

6.    Set aside intentional time each day to think about what you are grateful for. Clear your mind of everything aside from the things that you are grateful for (big and small), and simply reflect. 

7.    For those of you with a competitive spirit or who enjoy a good challenge, Pinterest has a few  fun and effective Gratitude Challenges that have your name written all over them!

8.    Each month, hand write a card or send an email to someone who has made a positive impact in your life, be it big or small.

 

References:

 

https://www.thedailypositive.com/need-know-gratitude/

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/benefits-gratitude-research-questions/

 

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KJM Counseling

Up next...THE ART OF DISAGREEMENT