Gratitude – Is Your Cup Half Empty or Half Full?
Gratitude is something so many of us overlook in our normal every day lives. Why is this such a difficult thing for us to incorporate into each morning? Perhaps we’re waiting for our brain’s to rebut upon waking, or we’re rushed to get out the door, or we just haven’t thought to create a habit around something that takes only 1 minute to do. Either way, I’m so glad that I have incorporated it into my life, because it makes me aware of things I would otherwise and easily take for granted.
I’ll never forget years ago when my next-door neighbor, Dorothy, happened to draw my name to be my secret sister at the church we attended. Every now and then something would appear at my front doorstep that was thoughtfully purchased, crafted, or cooked by her hands. Every time I opened up that little something special, it made me smile. I thought how grateful I am that our church adopted this idea to bring people closer together and how thankful I was to learn that I mattered more to her than I thought I did—that she was listening to my words and remembered what was important to me.
One of the things she made, that impressed me the most, was called a gratitude jar. Because she and I had become close, she knew some of my secrets about my desires, frustrations, hopes and dreams that no one else knew. Every day my kids and I delighted in taking a small strip of paper from the jar that had written on it something she knew I had been grateful for. There were a variety of touching reflections that took me to a place of joy daily. (Below is the link to directions for making your own.)
As human beings, we aren’t naturally hardwired to automatically look at and reflect upon what we’re grateful for? Gratitude is a skill that must be fostered. It takes time and practice to create a sustainable mind-shift that causes you to….well…see the glass half full, instead of half empty.
The benefits of practicing gratitude can be life-altering. It helps us bring to our attention situations that can lessen worry, frustration, fear and panic. It causes us to open up our way of thinking to consider new solutions and possibilities. We can make a conscious choice to allow circumstance to affect us negatively or we can look upon the circumstance with curiosity and how we may learn from the experience.
Did you know that cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others? So why don’t more people jump on board the gratitude train?
Dr. Robert Emmons, author of “Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier” tells us that there are three stages to practicing gratitude — recognizing what we’re grateful for, acknowledging it, and appreciating it. But in order to recognize something, we have to stop, slow down, and be more aware of our surroundings.
I hope you will consider taking time during these holiday months to slow down and pay attention to the small things that you are grateful for – an understanding boss, a kind gesture from a stranger, a thoughtful note from a friend, money in savings, or family support. These are the things that cause a ripple effect in our world.
Starting Friday, November 21, on my Facebook page, I’ll be posting my 30 Days of Gratitude. Once a day I’ll be offering ideas for things you can read, watch or do to develop a mindset of gratitude. You can even enter a drawing to win FREE books that will make your gratitude journey even more fun and long-lasting. I hope you’ll join me.
Want to make your own gratitude jars? Directions for creating your own unique jars can be found here. You can also get “9 Ways to Express Gratitude” — a simple chart describing 9 things you can do to amp up your gratitude!
Would you like to assess your own level of gratitude? You can easily get this quick assessment that Dr. Emmons developed years ago.
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