“Gratitude is perhaps the greatest of virtues and is the foundation for all the other virtues.”
“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
“What you focus on, you bring more of that to you”
I have spent a large portion of my life deep in despair. I never felt good enough, never felt pretty enough. I believed that I was destined to live a life where I was on the outside trying to get in. I spent my days focusing on the negative things that happened and watched as they seem to expand. My smile was fake and tears were always just below the surface, waiting to burst forth. All of the negative and hurtful words that people said to me or about me, I soaked them in, without question, and they became my identity.
My only friends were misery and pain.
I wake up and I hear birds singing a wonderful morning melody that beckons me. I feel the warmth of the sun on my cheek and the morning breezy gently kisses my face.
Today, I see the beauty that surrounds me and I am overcoming with gratitude.
I have learned the power of gratitude and it has changed my life.
Gratitude at its basic level, is being thankful for what you have in your life, right now. It internally focuses on what is good and present in your life today. It takes time to notice and celebrate where you are now in your life’s journey and understand that you could not have done it alone.
Gratitude gains its power by controlling both your perspective(now) and your outlook (future). It also involves heart work to engage it. This means that if an individual desires to engage gratitude. They must engage: feeling, being (attitude), and doing.
Gratitude has several benefits:
- Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present.
This means that gratitude makes us appreciate the values of the things and people that are currently in our lives. This appreciation allows us to exact more value because we recognize the true worth or the object or person, so we are less likely to take it for granted.
- Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions.
We live in a negative based society that feeds off of negative emotion. We are exposed to negativity in the news, in music, in entertainment. We are constantly being compared to other people as a way of determining our worth in the world. As a result, our society suffers from feelings of envy, resentment, regret—emotions that can destroy our happiness and lead to depression, addiction, abuse, and even suicide.
- Grateful people are more stress resistant.
Gratitude helps individuals guard against post-traumatic stress and lasting anxiety. Grateful people recover more quickly from extremely painful events.
- Grateful people have a higher sense of self-worth.
Grateful people develop a perspective that recognizes that someone else is looking out for them.
• Stronger immune system
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.
Finally, gratitude contradicts the “just-world” hypothesis, which says that we get what we deserve in life. Good things happen to good people; bad things happen to bad people. But it doesn’t always work out that way, does it? Bad things happen to good people and vice versa. With gratitude comes the realization that we get more than we deserve.
10 Minute Activity: To More Gratitude
Before you get out of bed, speak out loud 10 things you are grateful for.
It does not matter what you’re grateful for. They can be tangible or intangible, large or small in your perspective. What is important is that you say each thing out loud and you take time to feel each thing as you express it.