Gratitude is perhaps one of the most important things for a happy life. Being grateful and being happy are very intertwined. They go together so easily. Yes, I do think it is possible to feel one without the other, but more often come as a pair. It’s not easy (or perhaps not possible) to just make oneself feel happier. It’s not always easy to make oneself feel grateful either, but I think that it can be done. Being more grateful does in turn lead to feeling happier. This is part of the magic of gratitude.
I work on gratitude. I work hard at it, on a repetitive, practically daily basis. I make lists of things I’m grateful for regularly. Frankly, it’s almost sickening in its own way. Perhaps, even embarrassing to admit to since it seems mushy and can perhaps seem trite in it’s own way. Like all those Valentine’s gifts they sell like over-sized stuffed animals and plastic flowers that are supposed to say “I love you,” even though they are just for appearance, aren’t that valuable and are in fact completely useless. On the surface gratitude may seem just as phony and may be something that is almost hard to admit to doing, shameful in the sort of way that one might rather be caught watching porn than browsing the self-help aisle in the book store. Most people who see it that way probably haven’t given it a real try.
The reality is that gratitude is powerful: truly life-changing sort of powerful.
Gratitude reminds us of how amazing life is. Gratitude lets us enjoy the things we’ve accomplished rather than just needing to accomplish more. Gratitude helps us to accept challenges.
Gratitude is about remembering that this, right NOW is our lives. Now is the time to stop, to look around and enjoy all that life has to offer. It’s about keeping our eyes open on a daily basis to the little miracles around us. Because that’s what life is made of: seemingly innocuous days strung together one after another. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the getting somewhere, rather than remembering that we already are somewhere. I still have goals about where I’m going, but gratitude reminds me to enjoy the journey.
Developing a practice of gratitude encourages one to be more grateful. That seems like such a obvious, stupid sort of sentence to write, but it’s so true. By taking time on a regular basis to focus on the things that I am grateful for and to consciously bring them to mind, I find that it makes me more grateful on a continual basis. It makes me more aware as I go through my life of all of the good things.
It is hard to list the things that we appreciate in life while feeling bad at the same time. We’re not very good at focusing on more than one thing at a time and focusing on positive things naturally draws our attention away from the negative.
Gratitude helps to change perspective. The very things that I get down about seem like amazing blessings if I take the time to be grateful. For example, when I take time to have gratitude for my house, it changes it from a chore-laden, money-sucking hole to a cozy place that I call home.
Gratitude is powerful at creating change. Focusing on positive things changes the way we relate to the world and the way we act. For example, being grateful for the people around us makes us act more kindly toward them. This makes our relationships better and in turn leads us to be more grateful for those people.
All of this sounds great, but how do we actually change to become more grateful? The answer lies in developing a daily gratitude practice.