What are you grateful for?
It is nearly the end of another year, so this is a fantastic time to look back over the year and recognise what you have in your life and what you have achieved. Maybe you met someone new, started a new hobby, got a promotion, found a new walking route or ticked something off your bucket list. Identify what good things you have experienced in 2022 and make sure you are grateful for them.
So, what does gratitude mean? The Oxford dictionary describes it as ‘the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.’
It is easy to think that gratitude comes from having what we want. You might have a family and friends you love, a well-paying job or good health. These are all great things, but we also know that there are poor or ill people full of gratitude for what they have. So, where does this feeling come from?
You might be grateful for these aspects, but how often do you stop to focus and reflect on them? Probably not as often as we should. Are you taking what you have for granted? Think about it. You might have money, friends, a house, or travel lots, which are all great things, but they are not enough by themselves. Gratitude is about having the right mindset to enjoy and fully appreciate what you have.
Take present giving, for example. Have you ever given someone a gift, and when they opened it, they reacted with very little enthusiasm? They might respond in a monotone voice, saying, “Oh, thanks, I’ve been wanting one of those.” Their words say, “thank you”, but their heart says, “big deal”. Is it not a great feeling, is it? Does it inspire you to want to give them another gift? Probably not. On the other hand, if you give someone a gift and they exclaim, “Oh, THANK YOU, I just love it!”, doesn’t that lift your heart? You feel appreciated and happy that you made them feel appreciated.
So, when given a gift, it is important to show gratitude even if you don’t love it. Focus on the fact that they have gone out of their way to spend time and money on you so you have something to open on Christmas or your Birthday. Be conscious of how you react to people and show your thanks. It’s not about what you receive. You should be grateful you got something at all – it’s the thought that counts!
So, how do I develop my attitude of gratitude?
Your attitude of gratitude arises from how you look at things. It is a natural feeling when you recognise the actual value of the things in your life. When focussing on the good, you cannot help but have a better attitude and experience of life. So, gratitude is something you can develop; it’s something you can learn.
The first step is to stop and smell the roses, i.e. recognise the sources of good in your life. Take time each day to remember those small moments that can bring you joy. It might be smelling a rose, enjoying how the sun comes through the trees, or how peacefully the snow is falling. Take appreciation of the world around you and see the joy in it.
Now, use that same approach to the other aspects of your life. You do not need to ignore the bad in the world; just consciously choose to see the good. Situations in your life might not be perfect right now; maybe you’ve lost a job and are having financial struggles. It can be hard to feel grateful during moments like these but try to identify the good in your life; There will be a new job for you right around the corner. The more you do this, the more automatic it will become. It’s about adjusting your attitude. In most situations, there will always be some good; it’s about highlighting it and focusing on it.
One way to encourage this habit is to start writing down every positive thing that happens to you. Continue this until you start automatically seeing the good things in life.
Has someone ever pointed something out to you, and now you start noticing it everywhere you go? This shows how awareness and focus can alter your perception of reality. So, when you are aware of the good and look for it, you will start to see them everywhere you go.
Simple exercises like these will help to train your mind so that it can become a habit. Regularly take the time to reflect on your life and what you are grateful for. Not just today but every day. See the positives in life and recognise that you wouldn’t be as happy as you are now without them. Be grateful to have them in your life.
To find out more on this topic…
Listen to our ‘G is for Gratitude’ podcast episode
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