Accessing the Power of Gratitude

The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support its  effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

But while we may acknowledge being grateful has many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for thankfulness to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just something we express at Thanksgiving. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.

That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.

Being grateful isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.

There are many things to be thankful for: colorful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies.

Some Ways to Practice Gratitude

•  Keep a  journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.

•  Make a collage by drawing or pasting pictures of the things that bring joy to your life.

•  Practice around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.

•  Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.

•  When you feel like complaining, make a list of all the things that are going well instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.

•  Notice how your new “attitude of gratitude” is beginning to have  an impact on your life. Write about it, sing about it, and express thanks.

As you continue to practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover just how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.

What’s on your list?

Gladys Anderson - Life Coach, Therapist, Author

 

 

Gladys Anderson, founder of Coach for YOUR Dreams, is a certified life coach, licensed marriage and family therapist, writer and speaker. Gladys combines years of experience, training and a genuine commitment to helping nurses, therapists, teachers and other caregivers balance the many demands on their time and energy, create boundaries  that shift balance from overwhelm to energized, and live their lives with courage, confidence and clarity


Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

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