Gratitude– The quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
I always thought that I knew exactly what gratitude was until I really looked at this definition. I mean..the QUALITY of being thankful! To me, that means more than just saying thank you. When I look at gratitude now, I see it totally as an action word, just like love. You can’t even say the word unless action has been put to it, in my opinion anyway. When you show your gratitude, you feel indebted to a person for their kindness or support. That is much more than a thank you for me.
When we have so many obstacles are in front of us and a fistful of tears, it is hard to see the good that is happening in our lives. Sure, we will not see the good in what makes us feel stuck, but what about appreciating what doesn’t have us stuck? Gratitude helps us to look at our situation in a way that makes our issues less painful and aid in us being more positive and actually looking for a solution. The things is that most people are just not made that way. Gratitude is a skill that has to be practiced. I have definitely been working on looking at things differently and practicing gratitude in the midst of my obstacles and it is hard work, but it has been worth it. The author of “Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.”, Robert Emmons, says that there are three stages, recognizing what we are grateful for, acknowledging it, and appreciating it. I mean, that sounds simple enough right? I know that the benefits have been life-altering for me. SO what have the benefits been?
- Gratitude has helped me put my situations into perspective. When I practice being able to see the good and the bad in it, I complain less and it makes it harder for me to feel stuck in my situation.
- Gratitude has made me see what I truly have. I am more aware of what I am grateful for and it has lessened my tendency to want more. I have actually been spring cleaning and giving away massive amounts of clothing, shoes, and accessories after cleaning out my closet. I am so proud of myself and everything feels so much bigger and cleaner. You know when things are cleaner, your overall feelings are lighter and brighter for some reason.
- Gratitude just makes us happier. Gratitude definitely strengthens our relationships, reduces stress, improves our health, and just makes us happier in general.
I started practicing being more mindful of the world around me. That is one way that we can cultivate gratitude. Take a look around and be amazed again at all of the goodness that we daily take for granted.
We do not need a bunch of special or expensive things to practice gratitude, just your heart and your head will do. Some people may need a tool or two to help them be consistent and track their progress so here are a few things that may help……
- The Gratitude Jar- This is a site that lets you share what you are grateful for with the world and you can view other’s statements for inspiration.
- A gratitude journal- I love to journal so I have a few of these. Writing down what you are grateful for lets you see where your mind is. I have everything from birds singing or my green tea with a splash of lemon to my sons and the laughter we share. I would encourage you to write at least 5 things a day. After a crazy day, it can really draw you back to the things that really matter in your life.
- Red Stamp- This is an another app that will send personalized cards and notes any way that you want. Whether it be through email, text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and paper mail, you can show someone you care for that you are grateful for having them in your life.
We are going through so much, yet we have lots to be grateful for. As we work through our situations, we should work ON seeing the good. We should look at what happened, but also what could have happened and be grateful for the yes and the no.