Sometimes, it may feel simply impossible to see the positive in a given situation or to have gratitude for your position in life. We may feel like the world is intent on sending us obstacles and gratitude may seem out of reach. What’s ironic is that gratitude is just what we may need to conjure up solutions to life’s challenges.
Gratitude opens up new possibilities. The word itself is from the Latin gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. People who embrace gratitude can see the beauty in most situations and, as a result, are likely to realize the beauty in all aspects of life. Developing gratitude is like building muscles – doing so requires repetition and persistence.
Happy People Have Problems, Too
Gratitude can be cultivated in ways such as counting your blessings, prayer, journaling, mindfulness (appreciating the present moment) and writing thank you notes to express appreciation for the people in your life. Happy people can have a challenging day yet still find happiness in simple things – a phone call from loved ones, a hearty meal, or a stroll through the park. You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to be thankful. Start right here, right now! Here are five simple ways to embrace gratitude:
1. Dare to be Aware: Become more aware of your thoughts. How do you perceive the world? If you find yourself veering off into negative territory, bring it back to the positive. Try to see what’s good and realize that life will never be without struggle. Don’t take your blessings for granted. When you’re more aware of your thought patterns, you can choose to react differently to life’s circumstances.
2. On a Positive Note: Optimism is one outcome of showing gratitude. Taking an optimistic approach to life opens the door for happiness, which can significantly enhance your health and reduce stress. If you convey gratitude for what you have in life, you pour energy into the positive. This approach helps your mind, body, and spirit. It’s just as easy to look on the bright side of life as it is to focus on the negative, so take a walk on the sunny side.
3. Make Someone’s Day: Let the people in your life know how important they are to you and you may very well make their day. You can either craft a letter or share your feelings in person. When you receive a call from loved ones, let them know how happy you are to receive their call. Give a friend, coworker – or even a stranger – a sincere compliment (try to give one compliment every day) and put a smile on your face and theirs. You might even make new friends in the process or inspire someone to pay the compliment forward.
4. Write On: Keep a gratitude journal by your bed and write down three to five reasons to be grateful. Do so either first thing in the morning or right before bedtime. If you write in your journal before getting some ZZZs, you might find that you get an even better night’s sleep. Once you start compiling a gratitude list, you may realize that you have far more than three to five blessings in your life.
5. Lend a Hand: Spread good cheer by volunteering – whether it’s working with children, the elderly, animals, or any other organization. Or, raise money for an organization by selling your artwork or collecting donations from family and friends. Giving back allow you to feel good about yourself as you help others in need.
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