An Attitude of Gratitude
A look at what you do have, not at what you don’t. learn to appreciate that life is better than you are giving yourself credit for.
There is truth to the saying that you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone. Just sit in a room full of teenagers when the wifi stops working!! But we get so use to having that we sometimes forget to be grateful for it.
There has been more scientific research done in this area in the last 10 to 15 yrs and there is still much more to learn. But exactly what are we talking about here.
One resource that I love is Dr Robert Emmons best selling book, “Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.” Eight years of intensive research on gratitude is included and this author and researcher has discovered what gives life meaning is gratitude.
Emmons found that people who view life as a gift and consciously acquire an “attitude of gratitude” will experience multiple advantages.
Gratitude improves emotional and physical health, and it can strengthen relationships and communities. Some strategies include keeping a gratitude journal, learning prayers of gratitude and using visual reminders. “Without gratitude, life can be lonely, depressing and impoverished, gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms. People are moved, opened and humbled through expressions of gratitude.”
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is tough. It is, according to Emmons, a “chosen attitude.” We must be willing to recognize and acknowledge that we are the recipients of an unearned benefit.
Emmons’ research indicates that gratitude is not merely a positive emotion; it also improves your health if cultivated. People must give up a “victim mentality” and overcome a sense of entitlement and deservedness.
As a result, he says, they will experience significant improvements in several areas of life including relationships, academics, energy level and even dealing with tragedy and crisis.
There are so many different sources of gratitude and some great books. Some of the books I have personally read include:
- Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life by Angeles Arrien
- The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Lyubomirsky, Sonja
- The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Just to name a few. These books have great ideas and actions you can take to increase your gratitude.
We need to learn to see what we do have. And I mean really see what good things are in our lives. We often get so use to our every day life that we take it for granted. There is always something in our day that we can be grateful for. The taste of a good coffee, the hug from someone you love, the thanks from a co worker. Even just the smile you get from a stranger, or good customer service is something to be grateful for.
The easiest method is the 3 grateful things a day diary. (http://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/three-good-things)
How to Do It
Each day for at least one week, write down three things that went well for you that day, and provide an explanation for why they went well. It is important to create a physical record of your items by writing them down; it is not enough simply to do this exercise in your head. The items can be relatively small in importance (e.g., “my co-worker made the coffee today”) or relatively large (e.g., “I earned a big promotion”). To make this exercise part of your daily routine, some find that writing before bed is helpful.
As you write, follow these instructions:
- Give the event a title (e.g., “co-worker complimented my work on a project”)
- Write down exactly what happened in as much detail as possible, including what you did or said and, if others were involved, what they did or said.
- Include how this event made you feel at the time and how this event made you feel later (including now, as you remember it).
- Explain what you think caused this event—why it came to pass.
- Use whatever writing style you please, and do not worry about perfect grammar and spelling. Use as much detail as you'd like.
- If you find yourself focusing on negative feelings, refocus your mind on the good event and the positive feelings that came with it. This can take effort but gets easier with practice and can make a real difference in how you feel.
If you really need to focus on this area of your life, then it might be time to start a gratitude project. There are lots of ideas online, but a gratitude project should not be a chore that you have to do every day. You should look forward to working on your gratitude project. Here are some ideas.
- Take a photograph every day that represents what you are grateful for. It might be that the leaves are changing and the colours are beautiful, it might be that this cup of coffee is just what you need right now. it doesn’t have to be life changing. It just needs to be something that makes you smile.
- Keep a journal that you add one thing every day that you are grateful for. I have a little tiny book that is on a necklace and have asked people I love and respect to write their name and one word that makes them smile in to. when I need extra strength I wear it to remind myself of all the joy of these people. But you could keep this book around your neck and add your journal entries to that.
- Once a week make contact with someone that you are grateful to have in your life and remind them of a time that they did something for you that you are truly grateful for.
- Find a quote that inspires you about gratitude and write it on a small piece of paper. Fold the paper and fill a jar. One every day. Once the jar is full you can start to take them out one each day for inspiration. One the jar is empty; you can fill it right back up again.
This is just a few ideas. Go and google gratitude project or search for the term on pinterest. It’s amazing what people have come up with. A great way to get your creative on!!
There is always some time during the day that you have 5 minutes so all these ideas should not take more than 5 minutes every day to do. you can do them as part of your daily routine, and by looking out for things that you will add to your gratitude project, your brain will also look for things to be grateful for. This is called a win win situation!!
So we know the research and we understand what gratitude can do for us. It is now time to take action. What are you going to introduce to your life that will remind you about gratitude?