An Attitude of Gratitude Today
By Dr Peggy Marshall
In May, I introduced the concept of the Happiness Advantage. I provided you with a list of Happiness Boosters. Today, I want to add another happiness booster. Gratitude. I spent the weekend with my family celebrating my father’s 85th birthday. How can one not be grateful for the ability to experience this major event with one’s parents? I began to reflect upon how easy it is to be grateful for the big things yet how often we forget about for the small things.
Achor, in “The Happiness Advantage” reported that “consistently grateful people are more energetic, emotionally intelligent, forgiving, and less likely to be depressed, anxious, or lonely.” In fact, researchers who trained volunteers to focus on gratefulness found increases in optimism, social connections, happiness, better sleep patterns and even decreases in headaches in just a few short weeks. Imagine what you could do if you began to include a focus on gratitude in your life!
Other benefits of the experience of gratitude include:
- Instantly lifts spirits
- Builds synergy and closeness into relationships
- Experience a more vibrant health
- Deeper appreciation for life
- Stronger resiliency
- More creativity
- Make an impact in other’s lives
- Sense of contentment
At the beginning of the year, I started a gratitude journal. Every morning when I get up, I think about what happened the day before that I am grateful for. I write down three things. They can be a beautiful sunny day, a great meal, a walk in the park, etc.-the more mundane things that happen everyday. Before writing this blog, I went back through my journal and was touch by some of the entries into my journal. It was inspiring to read through what has added meaning to my life over the past six months.
On a scale of 1-10 how grateful are you? What can you do to increase your feelings of gratefulness now? What other rituals-beyond a journal-would you want to put in place to experience more gratefulness in your life? Clients I have worked with make a practice of sending thank you notes consistently-not just for the big things but for the little things as well. Some also send emails and make quick calls to thank others for the contribution they make. Achor suggests that we can also engage family members in gratitude exercises. Starting the evening meal with three things each person is grateful for can lift spirits not just at the meal but throughout the evening. It becomes a ritual that families look forward to doing as a group.
Focusing on gratitude doesn’t mean taking large periods of time to make it happen. A quick reflection as you are waking or just before you go to sleep can provide the benefits discussed earlier in this blog. I think the following quote sums it up nicely:
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. –Melody Beattie
To Your Success!