Thoughts On Gratitude

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The Holidays are traditionally the time to reflect and count our blessings; to express thankfulness, gratitude and appreciation for all that surrounds us and Creative Wonk wants to take this opportunity to wish you a very warm Ho;iday Season, full of all the trimmings and laughter it can provide. I  continue to be both grateful and thankful for my wonderful clients and their support now and all year through. I so enjoy being able to provide you with  services that you use and enjoy!

There are times when days get hectic and you begin to feel overwhelmed. Often taking a moment to focus on the people and things you are grateful for in life helps too. When you are grateful, other things will fall by the wayside. For example, you probably won’t be able to feel jealous and grateful at the same time. It’s impossible to be angry and grateful at the same time. You might even be thankful for someone else’s success or their contribution to you. Being thankful gives you perspective on your situation and brings you into the present moment.

One of the most impressive reasons for being grateful is the positive impact on the way you think and feel. Research shows that grateful people have, “higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy.”

More often though, it takes a rough patch to remind us of what we have. My year has been fraught with loss. I lost 3 pets in as many months and the 15 year relationship with a man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. Though gratitude is a part of my daily life, I had slacked on remembering exactly what I was grateful for everyday. So I restarted my Gratitude Journal and focused on what I had in my life, instead of what was gone or slipping away.

It’s amazing how one simple, easy, positive action can change so much in a person’s life.

One of the things that has had the biggest effect on my life in the last 9 months is the reminder of the power of gratitude. Simply giving thanks. Just once a day.

It has affected everything as I have traveled this painful and sad road. It has made me a more positive person. A more productive person. A better achiever. A better friend and worker (at least, I like to think so). A happier person. In fact, some of closest friends have told me they haven’t seen me this happy in years. I’m not perfect, but gratitude has made me better, more calm and more serene.

Can it change your life as well? I can guarantee it. You might not get the exact same benefits as I have, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the simple act of gratitude on a regular basis will change anyone’s life, positively and immediately. How I many other changes can claim to be that quick, that easy, and that profound?

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Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can incorporate gratitude into your life, and how it will change your life. These are just some examples, based on my experience and the experiences of others I’ve talked with, and not all will apply to your life. But pick and choose the ones you think will work for you.

  • Have a morning gratitude session. Take one minute in the morning (make it a daily ritual) to think of the people who have done something nice for you, to think of all the things in your life you’re grateful for. You won’t get to everything in one minute, but it’s enough. And it will instantly make your day better, and help you start your day off right. Can you think of a better use of one minute?
  • When you’re having a hard day make a gratitude list. We all have those bad days sometimes. We are stressed out from work. We get yelled at by someone. We lose a loved one. We hurt a loved one. We lose a contract or do poorly on a project. One of the things that can make a bad day much better is making a list of all the things you’re thankful for. There are always things to be thankful for — loved ones, health, having a job, having a roof over your head and clothes on your back, life itself.
  • Instead of getting mad at someone, show gratitude. That’s a major switching of attitudes — actually a complete flip. And so this isn’t always easy to do. But I can promise you that it’s a great thing to do. If you get mad at your co-worker, for example, because of something he or she did, bite your tongue and don’t react in anger. Instead, take some deep breaths, calm down, and try to think of reasons you’re grateful for that person. Has that person done anything nice for you? Has that person ever done a good job? Find something, anything, even if it’s difficult. Focus on those things that make you grateful. It will slowly change your mood. And if you get in a good enough mood, show your gratitude to that person. It will improve your mood, your relationship, and help make things better. After showing gratitude, you can ask for a favor — can he please refrain from shredding your important documents in the future? And in the context of your gratitude, such a favor isn’t such a hard thing for the co-worker to grant.
  • Instead of criticizing your significant other, show gratitude. This is basically the same as the above tactic, but I wanted to point out how gratitude can transform a marriage or relationship. If you constantly criticize your spouse, your marriage will slowly deteriorate — I promise you. It’s important to be able to talk out problems, but no one likes to be criticized all the time. Instead, when you find yourself feeling the urge to criticize, stop and take a deep breath. Calm down, and think about all the reasons you’re grateful for your spouse. Then share that gratitude, as soon as possible. Your relationship will become stronger. Your spouse will learn from your example — especially if you do this all the time. Your love will grow, and all will be right in the world.
  • When you face a major challenge, be grateful for it. Many people will see something difficult as a bad thing. If something goes wrong, it’s a reason to complain, it’s a time of self-pity. That won’t get you anywhere. Instead, learn to be grateful for the challenge — it’s an opportunity to grow, to learn, to get better at something. This will transform you from a complainer into a positive person who only continues to improve. People will like you better and you’ll improve your career. Not too shabby.
  • When you suffer a tragedy, be grateful for the life you still have. I’ve recently lost an aunt, and my children recently lost a grandmother. These tragedies can be crippling if you let them overcome you. And while I’m not saying you shouldn’t grieve — of course you should — you can also take away something even greater from these tragedies: gratitude for the life you still have. Appreciation for the fleeting beauty of life itself. Love for the people who are still in your life. Take this opportunity to show appreciation to these people, and to enjoy life while you can.
  • Instead of looking at what you don’t have, look at what you do have. Have you ever looked around you and bemoaned how little you have? How the place you live isn’t your dream house, or the car you drive isn’t as nice as you’d like, or your peers have cooler gadgets or better jobs? If so, that’s an opportunity to be grateful for what you already have. It’s easy to forget that there are billions of people worse off than you — who don’t have much in the way of shelter or clothes, who don’t own a car and never will, who don’t own a gadget or even know what one is, who don’t have a job at all or only have very menial, miserable jobs in sweatshop conditions. Compare your life to these people’s lives, and be grateful for the life you have. And realize that it’s already more than enough, that happiness is not a destination — it’s already here.

Some days, my list is filled with amazing things, such as enjoying an afternoon with my best friend, sharing a meal, hearing a loved one’s voice on the phone at just the right time. Many days, I'm thankful for the simple activities; a good movie,  a productive day, a smile from a stranger or a one of my cats jumping into my lap, purring.

Gratitude can make a real difference in your ability to feel positive, both emotionally and physically. This holiday season why not try to live every day as a thank you and make Thanksgiving last all year long!?

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