One of the things I have learned while experiencing life on this earth is this, the attitude of gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions we can apply. When we are grateful, truly grateful, for what we have right in front of us, it is hard to 'want' more. Being content is a blessing. Mind you we can be content, and yet not be complacent. Those are two different things. Contentment is being joyful in the present. Complacency is not striving for a future.
So how do we start expressing the attitude of gratitude? First, we choose to make gratitude a part of our perception of life and circumstances. We must believe that this perception is a better way to view life. I often advise my children that we typically get what we are looking for in life and our day to day experiences. If we seek what is good and positive, typically that is what we notice. On the flip side, if we embrace negativity and not experiencing the things we want, well, usually that is what we find. Second, we require that gratitude is a behavior we exhibit, or a habit. Others should be able to notice this characteristic in you by the way you interact with them and how you handle failure… and success. Third, we remain aware and catch ourselves when we choose to go negative. That is the hard one. Sometimes, embracing the negative side seems to justify our beliefs of others or of the world. People often use this tactic as a way to say, “Yes, see I told you this would happen!” I think, in all honesty, this negativity is really fear talking. When we fear a challenge will only end badly, well that’s a good excuse to not try at all, isn’t it? When we are tempted to give in to this negative type of experience, I recommend thinking about an idea that I have found both humorous and true: “Never be afraid to try to succeed when you face a challenge. Remember, amateurs built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic.” A challenge worth doing usually is difficult, but that is what growth and development is all about, both personally and professionally.
Let me give you a tip about how to start embracing gratitude. Before you get out of bed in the morning, acknowledge three things you are grateful for. If you are prayerful, say a prayer of thanks for those things. Then when you get up write them down in a journal. Everyday think of three new and different things you are thankful for. My guess is you will find an unlimited list as I have.
Another project you can create, especially if you have kids, is to place a poster board on the wall, and as you or your family find things you are grateful for, write it on the poster. We did this a few years ago with our family, and we found ourselves buying several more pieces of poster board as the first one filled up quickly. Some of the things my daughters wrote brought tears to my eyes as I saw their sweet individualities come through. Their perceptions, that often only children can have, brought me back down to earth and grounded me in so many things I had taken for granted.
Why did I say at the very beginning that claiming gratitude is so powerful? Let me tell you that as you express gratitude, worry disappears, negatives thoughts flee, focus increases, and your joy increases. It's a funny thing, but when your gratitude increases, so does your success, your happiness, and your relationships. Try it on - you'll like it.
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