“The Struggle Ends Where Gratitude Begins” –Neale Donald Walsch
This time of year the attitude of gratitude has widespread appeal. However, the expression of gratitude is something that should not be limited to the holiday season. All year round, it is important to count our blessings.
Gratitude, a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation, has the ability to heal us when we are feeling broken, energize us when we are feeling demoralized, mobilize us when we are feeling stuck, and provide us with hope in the face of despair. Grateful responses to life are related to peace of mind, higher levels of positive emotions, a stronger immune system, better sleep and improved blood pressure. Therefore, the practice of counting our blessings, rather than our burdens, is one that we should all embrace.
Let’s all be a little bit of sunshine to ourselves and others by embracing an attitude of gratitude. Here are a few tips:
Keep a gratitude journal. This doesn’t have to be too complicated. Simply record one or two things daily for which you’re grateful. The entries should be brief and can include simple observations like “I woke up this morning” or timeless experiences like “traveling to Costa Rica with a friend.” You don’t need a fancy journal or computer. Folks that participate in gratitude journaling evidence higher levels of well being than those that journal about negative events or about neutral events.
Express gratitude to another person. Share with a friend, family member or acquaintance how much you appreciate them via a phone call, letter or email. Just saying thank you in a thoughtful way can brighten up your day and someone else’s day. We can also express gratitude to another by praising them for their accomplishments. When we are grateful, we are better able to appreciate the accomplishments of others, rather than being jealous or resentful.
Express gratitude for the challenging things in life. Let no experience be wasted. Even the most difficult experiences can become valuable life lessons. Many of us can look to times of great calamity and confusion and realize that those moments helped us to grow in very important ways.
Contribute to someone neutral in your life. Show a random act of kindness to someone you might not know very well. Buy a cup of coffee for someone you see regularly at the coffee shop or give a bottle of cold water to the bus driver. Something random and thoughtful can really bring joy to a person’s life.
Choose a gratitude accountability partner. Sticking to a commitment is always easier when we have the support of friends and family. Take an inventory of those around you and choose to spend more time around grateful people. The behavior of another can be contagious, whether positive or negative. We don’t want to “catch” the negative attitude of others, so keep that positive, grateful and supportive person close to you.
Make a commitment to invest in yourself by counting your blessings and embracing an attitude of gratitude. No matter how tough things may appear, they could always be worse. Receive all of life with an appreciation for everything that has occurred and accept the entirety of your life, indiscriminately. The practice of counting our blessings, rather than our burdens, is good for our mind, body and spirit. Thank you for reading these words that I have shared.