“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. 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.”– Melody Beattie
When Ingratitude is around it is hard to get anything done because it is stuck in the past. All it sees is everything that is not here that “should” be. Work becomes a grudge instead of a source of optimal experiences. If you are able to get rid of Ingratitude completely your life will start turnin’ up daisies! Imagine feeling grateful all the time, what a way to fall in love with life. Many of us are unable to simply flip a switch from Ingratitude to ever-grateful and yet, becoming grateful for your life- as it is right now -is the most important thing you can do to feel productive and move forward. It is easier to go to work, do housework, be a partner, be a parent, etc. when you are grateful for the things that allowed you to have a job, complete the housework, be a partner, be a parent etc.
How could we cultivate a feeling of Ever-Grateful? Here are a few suggestions:
- Make a list of things you are grateful for. Let’s get the standard out of the way. It works. If you sit and write all the things you are grateful for right now you will see that feeling of gratitude begin to deepen. You will feel better about what you have right here and right now. You will begin to see that your situation may not be quite as dire. It is important to break past the point of being obvious. Make a list of 100 things you are grateful for and you will find appreciation for things you never would have noticed before.
- Make a list of things surrounding you RIGHT NOW that you are grateful for. We are constantly surrounded by things that are making life possible, comfortable, or better is some way. Right now I can list the following: under-counter mounted lighting, electricity, laptop that seems to be working (today), coffee, heavy cream, pen, stool, fuzzy socks, sleeping children, silence (oh now I’m feeling it), brain is working, fingers that can move, and the list goes on. What is in YOUR space?
- Make a list of lists of things to be grateful for. Create a list of categories of things to be grateful for. What relationships are you grateful for? What people in your life? What are the best moments of your life? What skills are you happy you have? What books are you happy you read? What habits are you happy you have? Make your own list-then dig in and expand them!
- Make a list of the worst things happening to you right now; Then, find the good in them. I know, this doesn’t make any sense at all. Aren’t we trying to FEEL gratitude? How does this help? What are the worst things have have happened to you recently? Did your partner make a mistake? Have you experienced infidelity? Did you lose investment money? Did you get food poisoning? Did you fall into a deep depression? Did you get deeply rejected? All of life contains great pain and even within pain there can be calm and yes, gratitude. Finding just one tiny, minuscule fragment of positive reflection can help us step back and gain perspective. It is painful to say, “I am grateful my partner cheated on me.” It is easier to say, “I am grateful to have a moment to reflect on the state of my relationship.” It stinks to say, “I am grateful for my friend who told me I was condescending,” easier to say, “I am grateful to have feedback to stay aware of how I show up in the world.”
- Write a “Thank You” note. Yep. Thank you notes. They are not just for big events that dictate a daunting task. Saying thank you is the most common way to express our gratitude. Jot a note, send some snail mail, stick a post it. All of these “thank you’s” allow you to engage in a process of experiencing gratitude and BONUS, share it.
As soon as you are grateful for the things around you it will become much easier to motivate your actions toward self-development and growth, relationship and community feeling which are the pillars of happiness and who doesn’t want to feel happy?
“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”– Frederick Nietzche
Written by Emily Carlson, MA
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