Gratitude – the approach of thankfulness and appreciation towards your life – is a powerful tool. An attitude of gratitude can save you from truckloads of stinking thinking which only leads to desperation, unproductiveness, compromised relationships and ultimately an unfulfilled life.
A fix of thankfulness
Gratitude serves as an antidote to the following popular pitfalls:
Although depression is a complex problem with many possible causes and cures, that feeling of gloominess that we all experience from time to time can be eased by looking for things to be grateful for and then actively giving thanks for them. It requires a shift in focus to let the light penetrate the darkness.
Fear and Anxiety
We mostly fear and worry about the things over which we have no control. This can be a consuming and exhausting hobby! Instead of continually fearing hypothetical future disasters, it is much healthier to mull over your present blessings. For example, when you start fearing the death of a loved one, give thanks for the fact that they are still with you. Or, if you worry about a stressful deadline, give thanks for your job and your abilities.
Comparison is the murder of joy. The moment we start comparing – looking at life through our tinted lenses of perceived lack – the end result is always discontentment and jealousy. The most potent cure for this destructive habit is simply to change to the lens of appreciation. If your thoughts are filled with gratefulness, you will also learn to celebrate with others instead of coveting their blessings. Imagine how that could affect your levels of joy!
Striving for perfection
If perfection is what you are looking for, you are bound to find that the only perfection you can have on this side of heaven is perfect despair. The drive for unattainable perfection inevitably causes feelings of disappointment, dissatisfaction and even guilt over “failing”. You can never truly be happy in the moment if you believe that you should be having something more and better. Learning to appreciate your life as it is – with all its shortcomings and flaws – will buffer you from feeling undone all the time.
Growing in gratitude
Gratitude is an art and as all art forms, it requires practice and skill. Few of us can spontaneously be thankful amid all life’s troubles and worries. Here are a few practical tips to help you develop this fine ability:
- Regularly meditate on and write down the things you are grateful for – in your diary, on sticky notes in your office, on a “gratitude board” in your kitchen. Make a habit of doing this especially when you feel gloomy or dissatisfied.
- Create thanksgiving rituals – e.g. Let every member of your family tell the others what they are grateful for each day before supper; have a thanksgiving celebration with loved ones one day of the week; give thanks to God for your life while sipping your morning coffee.
- Be emotionally intelligent. Whenever you are sensing a negative emotion or thought pattern (like the four mentioned above) in yourself or your children, call it out and counteract by taking a moment to think of a good thing in your life.
It pays to be pleased
Not only does a thankful heart make you happier, it is also good for your health and it actually makes you more attractive. There are so many benefits to looking at life with gratitude. In gratitude lies peace. In gratitude lies joy. In gratitude lies hope.
If you feel inspired, but know that you need some help to create a perspective of gratitude or change some aspects of your life that often leave you dissatisfied, consider joining me for my next Design a Life You Love workshop or individual coaching sessions.