The Power of Gratitude

Gratitude. The studies on positive psychology tell us that making a list of the things we are grateful for each day can have an incredibly positive impact on our lives. Think about all the things we take for granted: The person who lets us in on the highway when we’ve clearly waited too long to get in the proper lane, the person who holds the door for us, the person in the checkout line who sees you have only one thing to buy and they have a cart-full so they let you go first… Sure, we say, “Thank you,” because that’s polite and we’re not horrible people, but how quickly we forget. Likely we get home, life gets busy, we make dinner, put the kids to bed and fall asleep on the couch, without giving those moments of kindness a second thought. Or we don’t think much about how grateful we are to have a place to live, access to the Internet, clean drinking water, food to eat, and a general feeling of safety. But when someone does us wrong in some way, boy are we quick to label them an a**hole! We are also more likely to talk about this to others, complaining about our day, or let it affect our mood negatively.

In all the craziness in our country right now, let us be grateful for all we have. Let us take time every day to write down our own list of gratitude and why these things matter to us. Even if we’re in situations in which it may feel as though there is little to be grateful for, I encourage you to search hard. They don’t have to be big things, any small ounce of gratitude will do. Re-read your list when you’re done. Feel the gratitude in your body. Smile. Breathe.

Life is not always easy. Sometimes it is really, really hard. However, complaining about how hard it is does not make it less hard, it just makes us wallow in it longer. Don’t run from those thoughts or stuff them down either, that will only lead to heart attacks or panic attacks, or general unhappiness, but instead, acknowledge the thought, let it float away on a cloud, then find something you can be grateful for. Even if it is to be grateful for the challenges we face because they help us grow. The worst times in my life were the years that made me. If those times had not occurred I would not be the person I became. Like sea glass, we need to be tossed around a bit in order to smooth our edges and become beautiful. Let us find the splendor in the moment, and add a dose of gratitude to our current daily regimen.

I’d love to hear if people do this already. If you start making a daily list, let me know how it goes! I’ve been keeping a journal next to my bed solely for this purpose. I’ve been doing a list of 10 per day, which is harder than it sounds! I miss a day here and there, but even still in the past two weeks, I feel happier overall. I find myself thinking “gratitude thoughts” more throughout the day. I feel like it helps me to change my mindset. Please share your experiences!

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