Humans are funny. We tend to focus on what hasn’t happened, what didn’t meet our expectations, and other disappointments rather than noticing all that we’ve received.
When I was younger I can remember many occasions in which I would become upset and totally focus on what didn’t work for me, rather than finding the good in the situation. My wedding is a great example. My husband and I married when we were both pretty young. For years I was upset about the disappointments regarding my wedding. How we had to do everything ourselves. How we were cleaning up at the end of our wedding, me still in my wedding gown, because almost no one offered to help. About how the pictures we have of that day aren’t very good. And, how we couldn’t really afford a honeymoon, that 16 years later I’m still hoping to go on some day. I could go on, but I won’t.
Here’s the reason I won’t continue imparting what didn’t work that day, it’s because I received so much more than I could have hoped for that day. I married my best friend who continues to amaze and inspire me to this day. I had the privilege of having all of the people I love under one roof. My mother, who is too sick now to attend anything, was at my wedding. My Grandfather was alive to see me marry my husband and was so happy for us.
It may have taken me almost 16 years, but I finally see how wonderful my wedding day was, even though some aspects weren’t ideal.
Humans have a tendency to gloss over the ordinary—breathing, a beating heart, the kindness of others—and go straight to the thing that is frustrating. This is a natural tendency, but it robs us of happiness and satisfaction that we could be feeling. The more we focus on what isn’t working the less we can see what is working. In studies they’ve found that people who are more grateful have higher levels of happiness and have more contentment in their lives. They’ve also found that one grateful person can positively impact the people around them with the act of expressing gratitude.
The Attitude of Gratitude and why it’s important:
1. Gratitude is noticing the bigger picture – When you stop and focus on finding gratitude, more often than not it will put you back on the track to appreciating what matters: love, health, beauty, etc.
2. Gratitude is reframing – When you take the time to find gratitude in a day or experience it can actually shift how you feel about the situation to a more positive perspective.
3. Gratitude is vision – Allow yourself to see what you have received and feel good about it.
4. Gratitude is sharing – Take time to express gratitude to another person. “Thank you for opening the door for me.” Or, “Thanks for listening to me and helping me work through my problem.” People like to be thanked and it helps build positive relationships as well.
“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach
What about you? Do you express gratitude in your life? You probably express it to others to some extent, but do you give it to yourself? Do you give it to past experiences that were challenging? Do you give gratitude when you’re out moving through your day? If you begin to practice this, you’ll find that the act of gratitude releases chemicals, called neurotransmitters in the body that calm and relax you. Gratitude is a necessary part to living a healthy life and it’s also a choice. What if you practiced gratitude for a week or a month and consciously focused on what you have to be grateful for? Maybe you’ve done this before? What happened? As in the quote above says, it can be a life changing experience to consistently express gratitude. Are you up to the task? Thanks for reading, friends.