It’s easy to be ungrateful these days, isn’t it? It’s easy to want things that we don’t have. I may even go so far as to say that being ungrateful is stitched into the very fabric of our society. Social media, television, magazines, radio are constant reminders of how little we do have rather than how much we should be grateful for.
Living at a time and place that is governed by the haves vs. the have-nots, where money is seen to be the powerful force that brings freedom and security, it is easy to not be grateful. When you’re working every day, unable to get out of debt, save for retirement, or maybe even after enduring the heartache of failure or financial turmoil, it’s simple to forget about putting things in perspective, and to forget to be grateful.
If you find yourself in that situation right now, no worries. We’ve all been there. AND – there are ways we can become grateful for the things we have in our lives. In fact, gratitude is quite possibly the most direct pathway to success in my opinion. The challenge? Most people base their happiness and gratitude on achievement rather than paying attention to the blessings they DO have as a foundation. Make sense?
Recently I asked myself the question: “Why is it important to have gratitude in life?” I spent 7 days journaling what I was grateful for each day. At night, I would think about the tiniest things before bed that I appreciated. I would begin each morning the same way and make sure to notice throughout my day the things I was grateful for. The results of doing this were amazing. I realized in just 1 week, that my tendency was to focus on my failures rather than see my accomplishments first. It wasn’t second nature for me to see all the things that I had to be grateful for unless I made a deliberate choice to do so. But by the end of the week, I began to notice the changes in the way I felt, the way I related to others and even the way my children were behaving. Being grateful on purpose was changing the way I was living.
What I’ve come to realize is that no matter the state or quality of our lives, whatever outcomes we’ve produced, goals we’ve reached (or failed to reach), what decisions we’ve made, and where we’ve ended up, has almost everything to do with focus. While some things might be out of our control, much of what happens based on our thoughts, emotions and behaviors, are largely actually in response to our focus.
That’s also why it’s so important to be grateful no matter what’s happening in your life. Even if you’re going through turmoil, and even if your entire world is crashing down around you, you have to be grateful. While it might sound strange, gratitude is the surest pathway to both success and happiness.
Here are some benefits I have personally discovered by being more grateful…
Gratitude shifts your focus
One of the reasons why gratitude can change your life is because it shifts your focus. You see, life is all about focus. Whatever we focus on, we move towards. When we live in a state of lack and negativity, we see more of that. It’s easy to see something in a negative light when you’re focused on that. On the flip side, it’s also easy to see things in a positive light, even when problems arise. If you’ve ever met an always-positive person, you know just how true this statement is. Even when something goes wrong, they look for the silver-lining in the situation. If they can’t find one, they simply state that something good will eventually come out of whatever they’re going through.
Gratitude improves the quality of your life
From your mental health and wellness, to your emotional, spiritual and physical self, all can be affected from the simple and basic behavior of gratitude. Gratitude can change your life by quite literally improving the quality of it. You’re the sum of all your parts, and it’s gratitude that can help to benefit each of those small parts. Studies have linked gratitude with satisfaction of life and it’s no secret that people who are grateful are more sated in their lives.
Gratitude makes you feel happier
One way that gratitude can change your life is by making you happier. Research shows hat having gratitude does in fact make you feel happier. Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons from from the University of California, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough from the University of Miami, have committed much of their research careers to studying the effects of gratitude.
In one such study, the researchers asked a group of people to write a few sentences every week about a particular topic. One group was instructed to write about things that didn’t make them happy. Another was instructed to write about things that they were grateful for. And the control group was instructed to write about things that had occurred but with no focus towards being positive or negative.
The results? The group that was instructed to write about things that they were grateful for were far more happier and optimistic about their lives than the group that had focused on things that had occurred in a negative light. When we’re grateful for things, it’s a natural occurrence to be happier about life. You realize the things you have rather than the things you don’t.
Gratitude strengthens and enhances your faith
Gratitude can transform your life by strengthening and enhancing your faith. Whatever faith or religion you believe in, whether it’s God, Allah, Buddha, or even that spiritual oneness that binds us to each other for all you agnostics out there, gratitude can strengthen and enhance your faith and belief in whatever school of thought you subscribe to.
There’s a deep-rooted appreciation for things that arise for those that are grateful. In fact, it becomes woven into the fabric of their being. Also, it strengthens their faith and belief in all things. For me, it’s my belief in God and the realization that I am truly and completely grateful for everything in my life, including all my problems.
Gratitude gives you piece of mind
There’s an inner belief that develops when you’re truly grateful for things. It provides sound peace of mind, the kind that doesn’t exist when you live with the expectation of certain things. If you’ve ever noticed people who expect certain things out of life, or who attempt to bend the will of others for their personal advancement, you’ll find people that don’t get very far in life.
There’s a respect that develops for those that can stay humble. Humility is definitely one of the most notable qualities of many of the most successful people in the world, because they’ve had to endure and recover from the heartache of pain, failure and defeat. It was from that platform that success was developed. Through good will, positive vibrations, and the desire to add value to the world by first being grateful, no matter what.
I Challenge each of you to keep a Gratitude Journal for 7 days. Write down the things you are grateful for every morning, night or whenever you feel like it. What do you notice about yourself? What do you notice about others when you do this?? Feel free to reach out to me with your answers – I would love to hear them!! BTW – I am grateful for each and every one of YOU! XO