Gratitude is more than just feeling good. It helps people become less aggressive by enhancing their empathy. Gratitude puts situations into perspective. When we can see the good as well as the bad, it becomes more difficult to complain and stay stuck. Simply put it helps us deal with life better.
“This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou
I came across this story recently which demonstrates the power of gratitude very well.
“Have you ever been in a frustrating situation that has ruined everyone’s mood for the evening? There is a simple way of showing gratitude in any circumstances, which can turn things around dramatically.
I remember a time when I ordered a Chinese takeaway for dinner. My family had plans for that night, which meant we would only be together for an hour before everyone had to run off to do other things.
We picked up the food and drove home, but when we opened the bag, we realised that the restaurant had forgotten to include one of the main dishes from our order.
In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a huge deal. That said, at that moment we had an issue – either someone had to drive back and get the food, or we had to settle for eating half of the dinner we ordered. It seems frivolous in retrospect, but this is exactly the type of little upset that can ruin the mood and pull everyone into a negative spiral – especially when you are in a rush.
I volunteered to drive back to the restaurant and pick up the missing food. When I returned 35 minutes later, we finally sat down to eat dinner with about 25 minutes to spare – so basically, it was a rushed evening. The mood in the room was frustrated and stressed. But I had a very simple gratitude habit that came to the rescue.
When I sit down to eat dinner, I say one thing that happened today for which I am grateful. On this particular day, after the frantic rush of the evening, I said that I was grateful for my family being together at breakfast that day. This was because it allowed us to spend time together that we didn’t get to spend later in the evening.
As everyone else contributed their own grateful moment from the day the energy completely reset in the room. It was like we all breathed a deep sigh and said, ‘okay, that was annoying, but we’re over it now. We live a good life and it’s time to move on and enjoy the moment.”
“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.” Unknown
Why is this gratitude habit so effective?
- It is a really good idea at least once a day to force yourself into a positive frame of mind. When we sit down for dinner, we are forced to think about the good in our lives for at least a few seconds.
- The individual impact of any one piece of gratitude is small, but the cumulative effect is huge. You begin to realize that nearly every day is a good day (at least in a small way).
- You start to realize how insignificant monetary things are for your day-to-day happiness.
- This habit is ridiculously small, so it is easy to stick with.
- I anchored my gratitude habit onto my habit of eating dinner each night. It is so much easier to build a new habit into your lifestyle when you choose the right trigger.
Why Practice Gratitude?
Because it reminds you of the positive things in your life.
It makes you happy about the people in your life whether they’re loved ones, or just a stranger you met who was kind to you in some way.
Because it turns bad things into good things.
Having problems at work? Be grateful you have work. Be grateful you have challenges, and that life isn’t boring. Be grateful that you can learn from these challenges and that they make you stronger.
Because it reminds you of what’s important.
It’s hard to complain about the little things when you give thanks that your children are alive and healthy. It’s hard to get stressed out over paying bills when you are grateful there is a roof over your head.
Because it reminds you to thank others.
The simple act of saying ‘thank you’ to someone can make a big difference in that person’s life. Whether that’s calling them, emailing them or visiting to say thank you, people like being appreciated for who they are and what they do. It costs little, but makes someone else happy, and making someone else happy will make you happy.
According to research published by the American Psychological Association, lead author Paul J. Mills, PhD stated that recognising and giving thanks for the good things in life can result in better health. Paul J. Mills is Professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California. Some of the reported health effects included:
- Less depression;
- Higher quality sleep;
- Less fatigue;
- More self-efficacy (belief in one’s ability to handle a situation);
- Less inflammation.
Thoughts for the week:
- Do you spend much time each day being grateful for the good things in your life?
- This week make a point of stopping several times a day and think of a few things you are grateful for.
- This habit changes the way you feel because your feelings are connected to your thinking.
- Try this for a few weeks and watch what happens. I do this every day.
Well that’s it for this week have a wonderful weekend and keep moving forward.