Gratitude, simply defined as the feeling of appreciation or thanks, is a powerful practice that goes beyond the utterance of words. Receiving wonderful news such as a great score on an exam, getting a promotion, finding the partner of our dreams, or having successful results on a medical procedure can bring about a profound sense of gratitude which may sometimes be expressed silently and at other times with outward exuberance. When we experience gratitude and say “thank you” in such cases, to whom are we really offering our thanks? Each of us has our own unique answer.
With negative news proliferating the media, it can sometimes seem as if there is little to be happy about, let alone grateful. But the reality is there is always something to be grateful for, whether large or small.
While it’s easier for most people to feel grateful when things are going well and “good” things are received, gratitude can also be applied to difficult situations and misfortunes. One way to feel thankful for these experiences is to recognize what is learned from them. People that have overcome tragedies not only learn from the experience, but often gain strength and wisdom.
Being grateful for what we currently have is the best way to achieve the future we desire, as it brings inner contentment. Focusing on lessons learned, opportunities presented, and good fortune generates positive emotions, while guilt, resentment, anger, and criticism create blocks to our own success.
So, how can gratitude be proactively created and integrated in one’s life? It’s simple, takes only 5 minutes, and the best thing of all is it’s FREE! Some quick and easy ideas that can be done daily are:
- Write 1-3 things you are grateful for every day. As a challenge, try to think of a few new things each day.
- Look in the mirror and be grateful for the person looking back at you. If judgments arise, just let them go. Write down what you are grateful for about yourself.
- Think of a difficult situation and/or mistake made and be grateful to it for the lessons learned. Write down what you are grateful for.
- Think of the people around you, both inspiring and challenging, and create a sense of gratitude for what you have received. Write down your insights.
- Envision what you want in your future with as much detail as possible. Now write down what you are grateful for in the present tense, as if you have it now.
In each of the ideas above, try to experience gratitude, if only for a moment. Experiment with these simple ideas and choose one or two that resonate. Continue with them daily and notice any changes they bring about over time. Creating a mindset of gratitude and appreciation is a foundation for lasting happiness.
Have fun and happy Thanksgiving!