The one thing that holds people back from having their dream lifestyle and connect with other people in meaningful ways, is, in my opinion, a lack of gratitude.
Ingratitude, its polar opposite, leads all of your blessings down a black hole and you are left in a perpetual state of discontent. And the tell-tale signs are all there because genuine gratitude cannot.be.faked.
This feeling of emptiness is one of the reasons why we strive for more- more friends, more money, more status. Because how can you ever have enough if you don’t appreciate what you have?
Most of us, particularly in the “Western” culture, should be grateful for our lives and what is in them in a way that’s borders being apologetic. We, as animals, adapt. We become accustomed to things too easily. This phenomenon even has a name! Psychologists call this concept ‘hedonic adaptation’. We take our basics and our luxuries for granted (especially those we think are basic!). We take the paved streets, cars, public transportation, food and variety of food–all of it–for granted. We take the company and love of our families for granted.
This hedonic adaptation creates something even more dangerous–the false sense that these things will always be here at our disposal or for our enjoyment.
If you have ever lost something you valued, or worse, a loved one you treasured, then you know the truth in how truly fleeting the things and people that enrich our lives are.
Bring grateful is the anecdote!
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson offers a helpful introduction into what practicing gratitude can look like, and I, a reformed ingratiating fool, can attest that while it can feel forced in the beginning, it is like a muscle that builds endurance and ease as it is worked out.
Gratitude is an emotion similar to appreciation, and positive psychology research has found neurological reasons why so many people can benefit from this general practice of expressing thanks for our lives, even in times of challenge and change.
Check out the above link when you a little time to read. There is a growing body of research that is finding ties to mental, emotional, social, and physical health and wellness outcomes when expressing gratitude occurs for the both the person expressing thanks and to the person being appreciated. Endorphins, decreased stress, and increased positivity and happiness to name a few of the recorded benefits. So practice gratitude. Really.
A short list of science-backed benefits are:
- Reduced pain
- Reduced blood pressure and inflammation
- Better quality of sleep
- Decreased anxiety and depression
Isn’t that cool? In this day and age, all of those are big revenue streams for Big Pharma or expenses for folks. Consider that the power to improve them can be influenced by your and a practice of being grateful! (Please do not stop taking any prescribed medications!)
Positive psychologists have found evidence that practicing gratitude in the midst of grief, troubled times, and traumatic events, decrease pain and increase recovery/coping windows and improves resiliency.
What I suspect is that you will see how rich your life is, even in these trying and uncertain times, and you will stop looking at what is missing and began nurturing what you do have.
That is what happened to me. I started to add a few moments to my morning stretch and meditation to think of things I was grateful for in my life. At first, my health, job, and family were those things I mentioned moved on. Then I decided to say one unique them about each of them. Then I found myself driving mindfully and could often think of small details or events that made me smile. I took this with me everywhere I went! I felt better and more positive, even in the face of difficult situations.
I deepened my relationship with y husband and my teenager, my 8 year old seems cuter and less nerve-racking (I assure you-she has not changed AT ALL!) Overall, I feel happier and more optimistic and oddly enough, I sleep better and have keep my workouts sacred (and look forward to them). Funny how it all works out. It started with my sincere effort at being grateful for 2 minutes a day.
Most importantly, I found that practicing gratitude helps develop an abundance mindset and that feeling of contentment brings other things that make you happy into your life! It is the loveliest of cycles! Law of attraction at is finest !
If you are looking for a way to get started, try the following family-friendly activity. You can start now and to it on Thanksgiving Day, which should be every day. Get you some gratitude NOW!
The Gratitude Jar Activity
The gratitude jar is a stunningly simple exercise that can have profound effects on your well-being and outlook. It only requires a few ingredients: a jar (a box can also work); a ribbon, stickers, glitter, or whatever else you like to decorate the jar; paper and a pen or pencil for writing your gratitude notes; and gratitude!
Step 1: Find a jar or box.
Step 2: Decorate the jar however you wish. You can tie a ribbon around the jar’s neck, put stickers on the sides, use clear glue and glitter to make it sparkle, paint it, keep it simple, or do whatever else you can think of to make it a pleasing sight.
Step 3: This is the most important step, which will be repeated every day. Think of at least three things throughout your day that you are grateful for. It can be something as benign as a coffee at your favorite place, or as grand as the love of your significant other or dear friend. Do this every day, write down what you are grateful for on little slips of paper and fill the jar.
Over time, you will find that you have a jar full of a myriad of reasons to be thankful for what you have and enjoy the life you are living. It also will cultivate a practice of expressing thanks.
If you are ever feeling especially down and need a quick pick-me-up, take a few notes out of the jar to remind yourself of who, and what, is good in your life!
Kindness Challenge for November
Another way to try your hand at gratitude is starting with its sister, kindness. Kindness goes hand in hand with gratitude! At times, being grateful can be tough but you can always be kind–even if just with your self. Try it! People will or won’t appreciate it, but you will feel better and when you do receive thanks, you will grateful that you were able to make someone’s day! Click HERE for the challenge calendar!