I have been wanting to write about gratitude for a long time now. I’m grateful that I finally have the opportunity to do so because I think that gratitude is one of the most important qualities we have as a person. Gratitude as defined by Dictionary.com means, “the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.”
Why is gratitude so important? Gratitude is important because it can shape our entire mindset and how we carry on in or lives. If we appreciate and are thankful for what we have, we lead more positive lives. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
Emerson’s quote really inspires me. I was lucky to grow up in a stable, loving family. I was provided the best education and given every opportunity. The value of hard work was always on display and I now practice it daily. Of course, I have had my ups and downs. My life isn’t perfect and I wouldn’t expect it to be. Like Emerson says, I include all things in my gratitude, even the bad stuff.
For a while now, I have been at the point where I can have gratitude for my mother’s death. Yes, this may sound strange, but let me explain. Of course, I wish that she never got sick and was still here, but that is not the case. So, I look at the events and how they transpired. My super-healthy mom developed a disease and went to the hospital for treatment. Several weeks later, the disease got the better of her. At the time, I was full of emotion-inconsolable, angry, and withdrawn. I was trying to figure out how to create a life without my mother. Time went on, and this got easier. One day I even found myself laughing again. Now, I am at the point where I can have gratitude for my mother’s death. Had my mother not passed, I would not have had the relationship I have now with my dad and brother. I would not have changed careers and started my own coaching practice. I would not have had the opportunities to meet people who have fundamentally changed my life. I would not have understood the meaning of gratitude. I’m not sure how I would have advanced my life. So as Emerson says, “all things have contributed to your advancement,” I am living proof of his assertion.
I have gratitude for the good in my life and there is a lot of it, but I also have gratitude for failed friendships, failed relationships, for bad bosses, and for people who claimed to be more than they were and came up short. For all of these reasons, I have adopted an attitude of gratitude. Let me tell you that having gratitude really does change how your brain works. Gratitude rewires your brain. Having gratitude does bring more positivity into your life. I have seen my life change exponentially by practicing an attitude of gratitude. We are all so lucky to be right here right now.
I would like to share some tips on how to have an Attitude of Gratitude:
- LIVE IN THE MOMENT-You can’t change the past and you can’t control the future, so there is no point in dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Stay in the present and enjoy the moment.
- LEARN TO CONTROL YOUR THOUGHTS-As I’ve said previously in my blog, our thoughts are just thoughts nothing more. When we accept them and assign value to them, that is when we can get into trouble if they are negative thoughts. You can control your thoughts by deciding whether the thought should be given value or dismissed.
- DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS-A quote often attributed to Oscar Wilde is “be yourself, everyone else is taken.” Embrace those words. You never know what someone else is truly going through. They may look like they have the best life ever, but they can be suffering. Also, avoid the temptation of social media. There is real life and life on Facebook and Instagram. If you compare yourself to others, you will always be in competition instead of being grateful for what you do have.
- APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE AT THIS MOMENT-You may think life is challenging right now, but in every challenge, there is a silver lining. Look for the silver lining. Be in the moment and even if all you have to appreciate is your breath, that is something wonderful to appreciate. Because in all honesty, your breath is all you really need.
- ACCEPT THE PAST, BUT KNOW THAT IT IS TIME TO MOVE ON-The past made you who you are right now. Thank the past for its lessons, and be ready to move forward. You can’t live in the moment if you are focused on the past.
- JOURNAL-Write down your thoughts and experiences. Express that you are grateful for the events in your life.
- MEDITATE OR PRAY-Every morning when I wake up, I thank God for allowing me to wake up and I acknowledge the breath that I have. I go to bed every night and thank God for giving me the day. I also recount three or four events from the day that were positive. It is a little more difficult on rough days, but as I said above, there is always a silver lining, even in the worst of the worst moments.
I hope that this helps you develop an Attitude of Gratitude.