The Power of Gratitude
It’s officially November.
The season of Thanksgiving is always a great time to reflect on some of our greatest blessings. In my opinion, gratitude is showing genuine appreciation for the blessings in our lives, be it people or things. It amazes me just how powerful gratitude can be. Not only is it great for improving overall happiness and our relationships, but it has also been shown to improve physical health as well.
It’s crazy that an attitude can affect so much of our everyday lives, but I am constantly surprised by the way gratitude can change my entire view of life and the people around me. This article will attempt to show just how powerful a tool gratitude can be and how we can practically walk with gratitude in this season of Thanksgiving and throughout the rest of the year.
Gratitude & Happiness
It isn’t surprising that gratitude has a direct correlation to happiness. A positive attitude results in a positive emotion. But why is it that so many of us struggle with prioritizing gratitude in our day to day lives?
In my own experience, I think we have become comfortable using the excuse of our current situation to justify our lack of gratitude (and happiness). “When I get through _______, then I’ll be happy” becomes a phrase that is all too common. And often, all too unattainable.
The collision of gratitude and happiness shouldn’t be postponed until our lives are perfect. We’d wait our whole lives before that happened. Instead, we need to learn to feel gratitude even in the midst of pain and hardship. After all, isn’t it in those times that we need happiness the most? By cultivating a posture of gratitude in our lives, we will set ourselves up for success and happiness in turn.
When to Feel Gratitude
The mistake a lot of people make is believing that gratitude exists only in this moment – that as long as you are grateful for what you have right now, you are doing it right. However, with this mindset you can feel gratitude in the present while harboring bitterness over your past and anxiety for your future. While this might help temporarily, it will eventually lead to frustration when we realize how unhappy we truly are.
I believe true gratitude exists in the past, present, and future. We have to be grateful for what we have been through, because it has made us who we are now. We have to be grateful in the present for the blessings we are currently experiencing. And we have to be grateful and optimistic that the future will bring something amazing.
Now don’t get me wrong, gratitude doesn’t mean ignoring bad things and pretending life is perfect. That would be unhealthy. We need to understand the severity of our circumstances but feel grateful for the blessings that we have in the midst of it.
In my own experience, people who have gone through the worst experiences are often the most grateful for what they have. They understand loss, so they have more of a capacity to understand just how great their current blessings are.
How to Practice Gratitude
While the feeling and effects of gratitude might seem great, it’s often easier said than done when it comes to maintaining this attitude over a long period of time. After all, it’s much easier to let the difficult things rise to the surface while the things we’re grateful for slip to the bottom.
Just like anything else, gratitude needs to be practiced regularly in order to make it a natural part of our lives. Everyone is born with the capacity to be grateful and to show gratitude. Not only are we born with it, it’s essential to our relationships and to fostering the types of friendships, partnerships, and business relationships that we desire.
One thing that I’ve found effective in maintaining a spirit of gratefulness, is journaling. Simply writing down the things you have to be thankful for goes a long way in actually creating a grateful attitude.
Sound simple? That’s because it is.
Big things, small things, anything you can think of that you have to be grateful for in this moment. Your family? Your job? Nice weather? Odds are you can come up with a pretty long list of things right now.
And the best part is, it doesn’t end there.
True gratitude extends to the people around you in the form of appreciation. What is it about the people around you that you have to be grateful for? Is it a friend who has loaned you money? A parent who is always there for you? A co-worker who is always on top of it?
Let them know. Don’t let your gratitude end with you. Because the more we share what we are grateful for, the more the people around us will feel that sense of gratitude as well.
So this Thanksgiving season, don’t miss the great opportunity to extend gratitude to yourself and to the people around you. This is a powerful attitude that might take some practice to achieve, but is guaranteed to make our lives a whole lot better.
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