The Power of an Attitude of Gratitude

A thankful heart gives us hope, connection and resilience. It's good for the soul!

 

Happy Thanksgiving! This day, we remember our many blessings. My hope is that you will live in an attitude of gratitude is good for mental health and self-esteemgratitude every day of the year. Even in our difficult days, we have much to be thankful for. Today, I have posted a previous article about the power of an attitude of gratitude. Hope you enjoy it.

Once more, scientific research has confirmed something that our parents and grandparents already knew; that counting our blessings, or an attitude of gratitude, will make us happier. In fact, practicing this one habit seems to improve our sense of emotional wellbeing more than any other behavior.

In the mid-1990’s, a branch of psychology began to emerge, called “Positive Psychology”. Rather than focusing on emotional illness or difficulties, this group turned their research toward increasing understanding of the factors that made some people exceptionally positive or mentally healthy.

We’ve all known some individuals who seem to handle life’s difficulties with exceptional grace, and just appear more happy, joyful or satisfied. They clearly experience their share of life’s up’s and down’s, but do with more peace and hope than most. The researchers in Positive Psychology studied such individuals to identify those traits, attitudes or habits they shared that allowed them to do this.

First, let’s look at the factors that did not predict happiness. The researchers found that material wealth or standard of living had very little to do with happiness. While the United States has the highest financial standard of living, we are clearly not the happiest people. Many people who have much less than us report that they are much happier.

The research also found that negative life events did not necessarily lower a person’s level of happiness on a long-term basis. Of course, one’s happiness does go down immediately after experiencing a negative life event, but the research found that the person’s level of happiness usually returns to their pre-event level within two years. This was even true when the negative event was extreme, such as spinal cord injury resulting in permanent paralysis. Interestingly, the same was true for positive life events. Immediately after the event, the person’s level of happiness did go up, but usually returned to their pre-event level within about two years.

The studies did find, however, that exceptionally positive people all share an attitude of gratitude. They report that they pay attention to the blessings in their lives. Most of them consciously and deliberately cultivate this feeling of thanksgiving in each day. Most report that, with practice, the attitude becomes more natural and automatic.

We can all learn to be more grateful. Make the decision to cultivate an attitude of gratitude starting today. Count your blessings. Write them down. Before your feet hit the floor each morning, make yourself think of five things you have to be thankful for. Thank those you love. Thank them for the things they do for you, but more, thank them for loving you and sharing your life. Look for opportunities to be thankful today. You just might find yourself feeling happier!

A Simple Thank You

Express Your Appreciation and Enrich Your Life

Thank you. Two simple words, often spoken in passing. As toddlers, we were taught to say please and thank you, as athank_you_on_beach common form of courtesy. But, these two words may contain more power than we realize.

These words are spoken in many different situations, when the waitress brings us a drink refill, when a stranger holds a door for us, when we receive a gift, and when a loved one stays with us during life’s hardest moments. Sometimes the words are spoken without much thought. Sometimes they seem woefully inadequate to fully express the depth of our appreciation.

When spoken from the heart, these words create a sense of vulnerability. We let go of our position or status. We are one human connecting to another. We acknowledge our need and the fact that the other person met that need. Sincerely expressing thanks entails humility.

Try this little exercise. Write down names of people you are thankful for; those who have added something to your life or who have done something for you. This list can include family members, friends, teachers, co-workers and others for whom you are grateful. When you have exhausted this list, add the names of people you may not particularly like, but who have also done something positive for you at some time. You might not normally include these people in a gratitude list, but they did do something for you. Finally, add the names of people whom you have never met, but who have contributed to your life in some way. These people could include soldiers who have protected our freedoms, architects of democracy or inventors of things that make your life easier. When you’re done, the list should be quite long.

This exercise has an interesting impact. You will realize that your life has benefited by many, many people. You recognize that you are a product of many, and that you are a part of a much greater whole. You will experience a profound sense of connection. You are who you are, in part, because of many others.

The exercise is impactful, but it still doesn’t address spiritual gratitude. In addition to the people to whom I am grateful, my personal beliefs bring me to a much deeper appreciation for the many blessings I have enjoyed from my Heavenly Father. Those are far too many to count.

So today, look for opportunities to express thanks. Say it easily. Remind yourself that you are not alone. You are part of a much larger whole. You are who you are because of many. Simply say thank you. It’ll do you good.

The Power of an Attitude of Gratitude

thanksgiving_photoOnce more, scientific research has confirmed something that our parents and grandparents already knew; that counting our blessings will make us happier. In fact, practicing this one habit seems to improve our sense of emotional wellbeing more than any other behavior.

In the mid-1990’s, a branch of psychology began to emerge, called “Positive Psychology”. Rather than focusing on emotional illness or difficulties, this group turned their research toward increasing understanding of the factors that made some people exceptionally positive or mentally healthy.

We’ve all known some individuals who seem to handle life’s difficulties with exceptional grace, and just appear more happy, joyful or satisfied. They clearly experience their share of life’s up’s and down’s, but do with more peace and hope than most. The researchers in Positive Psychology studied such individuals to identify those traits, attitudes or habits they shared that allowed them to do this.

First, let’s look at the factors that did not predict happiness. The researchers found that material wealth or standard of living had very little to do with happiness. While the United States has the highest financial standard of living, we are clearly not the happiest people. Many people who have much less than us report that they are much happier.

The research also found that negative life events did not necessarily lower a person’s level of happiness on a long-term basis. Of course, one’s happiness does go down immediately after experiencing a negative life event, but the research found that the person’s level of happiness usually returns to their pre-event level within two years. This was even true when the negative event was extreme, such as spinal cord injury resulting in permanent paralysis. Interestingly, the same was true for positive life events. Immediately after the event, the person’s level of happiness did go up, but usually returned to their pre-event level within about two years.

The studies did find, however, that exceptionally positive people all share an attitude of gratitude. They report that they pay attention to the blessings in their lives. Most of them consciously and deliberately cultivate this feeling of thanksgiving in each day. Most report that, with practice, the attitude becomes more natural and automatic.

We can all learn to be more grateful. Make the decision to cultivate an attitude of gratitude starting today. Count your blessings. Write them down. Before your feet hit the floor each morning, make yourself think of five things you have to be thankful for. Thank those you love. Thank them for the things they do for you, but more, thank them for loving you and sharing your life. Look for opportunities to be thankful today. You just might find yourself feeling happier!

Stopping with “Thank You.”

When someone compliments you, how do you respond? Do you respond with some depreciating remark about yourself? “I tried, but I didn’t do a very good job. Someone else could have done better.” Do you quickly return a compliment, as a way of gettingThank_you attention off yourself? “Well, I was just thinking about how pretty that dress looks on you.” Does your response reveal your distrust of the compliment? “Right, now you’re just trying to make an old woman feel good.” Or do you just say “Thank you?”

We often have trouble accepting a compliment because we mistakenly believe that to do so would suggest that we are proud or arrogant. We fear that a simple “Thank you” would indicate that we agree with the compliment and feel we are superior in some way. Think about it. If you genuinely compliment someone and they just say “Thank you,” do you think they are being arrogant, or do you feel good that the compliment was accepted?

We sometimes have trouble accepting a compliment because we are self-critical and can’t imagine that the statement was genuine. The words are so opposed to our self-beliefs, and we assume that our “truth” is evident to everyone.

Regardless of the reason, responding to a compliment with any response other than “Thank you” is unnecessary and sometimes even impolite. Pay attention to your responses to compliments. Force yourself to respond with a simple “Thank you.” It’s enough.

The Power of an Attitude of Gratitude

thanksgiving_photoOnce more, scientific research has confirmed something that our parents and grandparents already knew; that counting our blessings will make us happier. In fact, practicing this one habit seems to improve our sense of emotional wellbeing more than any other behavior.

In the mid-1990’s, a branch of psychology began to emerge, called “Positive Psychology”. Rather than focusing on emotional illness or difficulties, this group turned their research toward increasing understanding of the factors that made some people exceptionally positive or mentally healthy.

We’ve all known some individuals who seem to handle life’s difficulties with exceptional grace, and just appear more happy, joyful or satisfied. They clearly experience their share of life’s up’s and down’s, but do with more peace and hope than most. The researchers in Positive Psychology studied such individuals to identify those traits, attitudes or habits they shared that allowed them to do this.

First, let’s look at the factors that did not predict happiness. The researchers found that material wealth or standard of living had very little to do with happiness. While the United States has the highest financial standard of living, we are clearly not the happiest people. Many people who have much less than us report that they are much happier.

The research also found that negative life events did not necessarily lower a person’s level of happiness on a long-term basis. Of course, one’s happiness does go down immediately after experiencing a negative life event, but the research found that the person’s level of happiness usually returns to their pre-event level within two years. This was even true when the negative event was extreme, such as spinal cord injury resulting in permanent paralysis. Interestingly, the same was true for positive life events. Immediately after the event, the person’s level of happiness did go up, but usually returned to their pre-event level within about two years.

The studies did find, however, that exceptionally positive people all share an attitude of gratitude. They report that they pay attention to the blessings in their lives. Most of them consciously and deliberately cultivate this feeling of thanksgiving in each day. Most report that, with practice, the attitude becomes more natural and automatic.

We can all learn to be more grateful. Make the decision to cultivate an attitude of gratitude starting today. Count your blessings. Write them down. Before your feet hit the floor each morning, make yourself think of five things you have to be thankful for. Thank those you love. Thank them for the things they do for you, but more, thank them for loving you and sharing your life. Look for opportunities to be thankful today. You just might find yourself feeling happier!