The practice of gratitude as a tool for personal development has been around for years. A recent study from the University of California stated that when people are grateful “they become more optimistic, more apt to help others, more joyful, and genuinely healthier.” Other related studies have found “they’re more resilient, less stressed, and better strategic thinkers. All because they focus on what’s right in life.”
But while helping professionals like myself acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. Many of us were trained to notice what is broken and lacking in our lives. For gratitude to positively enhance our lives, it needs to become more than just a word used during the holiday season. Gratitude has to become a habit and that takes time, focus and effort.
That’s why gratitude should be practiced. When we practice giving thanks for all that we
have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we are choosing to see life as an opportunity and a blessing.
Remember that gratitude isn’t a namby-pamby approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Wayne Dyer said it best—Life is an attitude. It’s what you CHOOSE to believe…always.
• Keep a gratitude journal in which you list three things each day for which you are grateful.
• Make a gratitude board by drawing, writing or posting images.
• Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.
• Make a game of finding the positive or learning in each challenging situation in your life.
• When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.
• Notice how gratitude is impacting your life and share it with those who might benefit from your experience.
As you choose to practice gratitude, an inner shift begins to occur, and you will be amazed to discover how content and present you are feeling in your life. That sense of “living in presence” is gratitude at work.
There are many things to be grateful for here in the Cowichan Valley: the colorful autumn leaves, the abundance of fresh organic food, great hiking trails and our relatively mild winters— just to name a few.
What’s on your gratitude list this month?