Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness. Seems easy right? It’s not hard to be grateful, it’s free, and the returns for having it, are life altering; however, if you read the newspaper, watch the news or open up your Internet browser you are immediately bombarded with all the disgusting awful things people do to one another. We have a new president (which I won’t dare talk about), but just the words flying around about our current state of affairs can make the most peaceful person fall off the wagon. In other words, it is very easy to get off the path of gratitude. You have to be dedicated in remembering how lucky you are on a daily basis, and not get wrapped up in the petty things life throws your way.
I recently attended a valuable workshop led by my talented friend Vickie Emanuele. She spoke about the importance of having gratitude in order to achieve and manifest everything you could possibly want in life. I’m 100% down with that, so the first thing I do in the morning when I get up (and I make my son do it with me), is say out loud “I accept”, “I am grateful”, “I am healthy”, and any other positive thing that comes to mind for the day. He had a lot of resistance at first and felt funny saying these things out loud, but after a couple of days he started coming up with his own things to say. Our mornings are different now. Instead of nagging him about getting ready, “hurry up and eat”, “put your shoes on we’re going to be late”, we seem to have better communication which makes for a pleasant breakfast together before having to leave for the day. I’m hooked on positive affirmations just for that reason alone. I also started keeping a gratitude journal. Every day I open up my book and I write down 5 things that I am grateful for. Every day I am flooded with more than five things and I have to choose which ones I want for that day. These two exercises take no time and yet the outcome has already been incredible for me.
Most of us can agree that it is easy to feel gratitude when we are happy. That’s kind of a no brainer. The real trick is to have gratitude when things are not so happy. How do we do this? We have to have a bird’s eye view. We can acknowledge our current situation as bad or sad or whatever it may be, but looking beyond the current situation, we can still be grateful for the lessons being learned, the people who are supporting us through it, or the unexpected things that may come up during that time. Being in a constant state of gratitude really does keep everything in perspective. When we practice being grateful for the big things, the smaller difficulties and frustrations won’t feel so overwhelming. You can also be grateful for things that are no longer right in front of you. Negative emotions you used to have, the absence of a person who was always a struggle, or pain you used to have from an injury prior to healing. There has been a landslide of studies showing how performing simple gratitude exercises can bring a range of benefits such as feelings of well being, reduced depression, better sleep patterns, increased productivity, and many other positive things.
One last thing I would like to talk about is the habit of saying you are sorry. We tend to say “sorry” for things that we really shouldn’t feel sorry for. So if you are one of those people, instead of saying you are sorry… replace the word with thank you. Thank you for waiting for me, instead of sorry for being late. Thank you for doing that… instead of sorry, you didn’t need to do that. We all like to do things for each other. Helping a fellow human makes us feel worthy. Julie Beck once said “It is much better to thank someone for the room they make for you rather than apologize for taking up space in their lives”. If you are interested in seeing how much your life can change for the good, in a short amount of time, pick up a blank book and write down 5 things you are grateful for each day. Wake up in the morning and say out loud the things that you ARE or things that you HAVE. Even if you don’t have them, say them as if you already do. Stop being sorry and start thanking more. We only have one life and no one knows when his or her time is up. Be grateful for the time you have and be the best you can be. Time is precious, so I want you to know that I appreciate you for taking the time to read this.