I don’t remember what made me feel so angry on that cold, grey day so many years ago, but I remember I was given an unexpected solution.
A friend called. I furiously explained what happened.
“Have you tried gratitude?” she asked.
I was mad. I wanted to do something. I did not want to be grateful.
“Tell me 10 things you are grateful for,” she demanded. “Right now.”
Many studies show that an optimistic mental attitude has many positive health benefits. Dr. Paul Mills, professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, found that an attitude of gratitude decreases depression, stress, and anxiety. He conducted a study to determine the correlation between good health and patients’ willingness to experience gratitude on a daily basis. “They had less depressed moods, slept better, and had more energy,” concluded Mills.
I was unconvinced – until I tried it. I reluctantly rattled off a list of blessings in my life. And I was surprised to learn that gratitude actually reduced my anger. Gratitude helped me move from fury to acceptance.
What makes you feel grateful? Consider these questions to create your own gratitude list:
- What insights have I gained about myself this year?
- To whom can I turn when I need encouragement or support?
- What acts of kindness have others shared with me – including strangers?
- What challenges do I face? What did I learn and how can I be thankful for them?
- What blessings within my environment can I be thankful for?
- What opportunities or privileges do I have?
- What special skills and talents do I possess that are uniquely mine to share with others?
- Is there anything I’m taking for granted?
- Who needs to hear me say, “Thank you?”
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more,” explained Melody Beattie, author of The Language of Letting Go. “It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
The power of gratitude is transformative. Perhaps these wise words will ignite gratitude within you:
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. – William Arthur Ward
The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. – Oprah Winfrey
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. – Melody Beattie
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. – William Arthur Ward
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all of the others. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse. – Henry Van Dyke
Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. – Abraham Lincoln
Albert Schweitzer was a pioneer of medical service in Africa. For the author of Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography, reverence for all living persons and things was more than a theory – it was a way of life.
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person,” Schweitzer insisted. “Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
The challenge of embracing gratitude begins with a willingness to release anger, a commitment to think differently, and an attitude to learn from your life experiences. Gratitude moves you from a place where you may feel stuck into opportunities to move forward. Most importantly, gratitude moves you out of preoccupation of what was and invites you into a journey of what’s possible.
What makes you feel grateful today?
Do you want to experience greater happiness? Try these suggestions from 8 Ways to Feel More Positive.
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