You want to be happier. You want to move forward. You want to become unstuck. You are ready for your life to change. What in the world does expressing gratefulness have to do with those desires for your life?
“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart
Becoming and expressing gratefulness will bring so many changes to your life.
As you become truly grateful for everything in your life (the pleasant and not so pleasant) your perspective of life, yourself and others will be markedly changed.
Your view of yourself and the world will have more possibilities and opportunities.
What is gratitude?
A definition of gratitude – the quality of being thankful: readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
What is gratefulness?
A definition of gratefulness – feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness, thankful.
Some authors talk about a difference between gratitude and gratefulness, often referring to them in contradictory terms. I think the important issue is that they both express thankfulness.
There are two types of thankfulness.
- One type of expressing gratitude show us
- As a response when good or beneficial things or experiences come into our life.
- It’s the time we say “thank you” to others.
- It is probably the most common manifestation of gratitude.
- Most of us have been raised to say thank you and that is an important action, whether to God or to a person.
- It shows that you recognize the event, opportunity, or object was given to benefit you.
- A less practiced form of thankfulness is when
- We are simply thankful for things we often take for granted or looking for the positive in an unhappy or difficult situation.
- This is being deliberately grateful for all the things we take for granted in our lives.
This would look like
- Waking up in the morning and expressing gratefulness for another day of life.
- Be grateful for a job to go to, even if it bores you.
- Feeling appreciation for the mobility that you have in your body.
- Being grateful that you don’t have a toothache.
When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit.
EXPRESSING GRATEFULNESS IN DIFFICULT SITUATIONS
The Bible says to “be thankful in all things” I Thessalonians 5:18a. It doesn’t say be thankful for everything but IN everything. When things are not going your way or you find yourself in a difficult situation you can always think,
- What is good about this?
- What can I learn from this?
- Maybe the best you can do for a time is just list in your head or on a piece of paper ALL the things that are going your way.
Grateful living in difficult times can help to build a bridge
- From despair to empowerment
- From grief to engagement
- It can keep our hearts open when they want to close
Expressing gratefulness may be one of the simplest ways to feel better.
HOW EXPRESSING GRATEFULNESS MAKES YOU HAPPIER
Dr. Emmons, a psychologist, who has studied gratitude (or gratefulness) for a decade has suggested that every person has a “happiness set-point”. It works like this – something bad happens in your day, your “happiness set-point” drops for a bit but it will return to its natural level. Likewise, when something good happens in the day, your level of happiness rises, and then returns to your “set-point of happiness”. The benefit of incorporating gratefulness into your life is that you can reset your “set-point” higher. In fact his studies show that people were 25% more happy when living in gratitude.
Dr. Emmons says, “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is great. If just means we are aware of our blessings. “
I wonder if the opposite is it true? If you live a life of complaining could your happiness set-point drop? It is something to think about!
It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude. It is gratitude that brings us happiness. Anonymous
OTHER BENEFITS OF EXPRESSING GRATEFULNESS
Besides the marvelous benefit of being happier, gratefulness/gratitude has other unexpected benefits;
Higher levels of:
You also will have greater progress in achieving personal goals
People tend to:
- Bounce back more quickly from conflict
- Have a stronger immune system
- Have stronger social relationships than people who don’t practice gratefulness
Expressing thankfulness can be done in many ways
- People can apply gratitude to the past, by remembering positive memories and being thankful for parts of their childhood or past blessings.
- They obviously can be grateful for what they have in the present and not take good fortune for granted.
- Interestingly enough people can be grateful for the future by maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude. Regardless of your current level of thankfulness, you can always be practice gratefulness more fully.
Here are some ways to incorporate more gratefulness into your life.
- Write a thank-you note to someone expressing the pleasure their relationship brings you and how they have impacted your life.
- Say “thank you” in person more often to
- Employees in the place you do business
- Strangers who are polite to you
This practice not only blesses you, but can make the difference in someone else’s day. Showing others that we appreciate their actions is so important in practicing gratitude. It can change your relationship with others because they feel valued.
- Download the app GRATEFULNESS
- Spend time in nature; this is an amazing way to clear your mind. It can make you feel more alive and more creative. Time in nature allows us to enjoy beauty regardless of what is happening in our lives. It may just be gazing out of a window watching a leaf blow on a tree, or a short walk in the evening. Enjoying nature is a way of focusing our thoughts, and eases our mind which allows us to be more appreciative of the world around us.
Spend the day appreciating every little thing that comes your way, and you’ll end the day feeling deeply grateful for your life. Grateful soul
- Learn not to take your life for granted. One day we will die. Many people have experienced epiphanies as they near death. They understand how precious and limited our days on earth are. Can you learn from their insights?
- Try this.
- Breathe in. Deeply. Fill your lungs. Count silently as you breathe in – 1, 2, 3.
- Then let the air out slowly, counting silently 1, 2, 3.
YEAH! You are alive. You could be dead. But right now you are living. So give thanks. Just by breathing you have proved how blessed you are!
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie
- Keep a gratefulness journal. Jot down something for that day you are thankful for.
Journaling is a very therapeutic tool. It helps get our thoughts out and even organize them.
A leading researcher on expressive writing, James Pennebaker, found that by writing down our own experiences, we are able to better comprehend them.
Having a record of the good things in your life can be quite an encouragement during difficult times.
When some things go wrong, take a moment to be thankful for the many things that are going rights. Power of Positivity
A gratefulness journal will help you build a positive mindset and help you live in the moment.
You can change your life by practicing gratefulness on a daily basis.
The way you see life.
The way you feel about life.
The way you handle life WILL CHANGE.
Here is a list that can help you cultivate a grateful attitude towards life.
SUNNY DAYS AND SILVER LININGS
GRATEFULNESS JOURNAL GENTLE NUDGES
Looking at the past; think about –
- A pleasant childhood memory
- A happy family memory
- A special school memory
- An exciting sports memory
- A great vacation
- A fun time with your siblings
- A special time with your parents
- A meaningful time with your grandparents
- Somewhere you have enjoyed
- Someone you have met
- An accomplishment you are proud of
Looking at today; think about – did you:
- Receive a compliment
- Receives encouragement
- Feel support from someone
- Have any new opportunities
- Make a new friend
- Connect with an old friend
- Have a special family time
- Have fun with good friends
- Get some good news
- Finish a project
- Enjoy nature
- Eat a great meal
- Something new you learned
- How you helped someone
- Something beautiful you saw
- Something you treasure in your home
- A part of your body you are grateful for
- Positive about the season of life you are in
- Something you are good at
- Favorite part of this season (fall, winter, spring, summer)
- Talent or gift you have
- Biggest blessing in your life
- Something about yourself
- A freedom you have
- Something that made you smile
- Something that made you laugh
- Something that you are good at
- Simple pleasure
Looking into the future – do you have something coming up?
- A graduation
- Family vacation
Take a moment to look at a situation you are in that seems negative or difficult, try to look at it from a different perspective. Can you find a “positive” in the “negative” situation?
Need more ideas or something quick
- Just write one word for the day
- Pick a topic for the week – people, situations, food, nature
Here is a link to a copy of the prompts, Sunny Days and Silver Linings
This article is one of a series of 6. If you would like to read further on the idea of getting unstuck in life you might enjoy the following.