“Be thankful for what you have, and you will have more; if you concentrate on what you do not have, you will never, ever have enough.”
Your life is forever saturated in the possibility of catastrophe. Bad and tragic things like accidents, illness, and untimely death happen to people every day. Yet we are tasked with finding ways of moving forward in a world where nothing is guaranteed. Too often people are pushed to be afraid of every little thing. There is always another problem, and the blame most times is placed on someone else. You are pulled in 100 different directions all throughout the day and you work hard to answer every notification, new headline, and opinions by co-workers, family, friends, and neighbors. The result are feelings that put you into a negative emotional and physical state and cycle of exhaustion: burnout, paralysis, boredom, sadness, anxiety, or depression. The holiday season comes with high expectations that can drive excitement but also sadness, anxiety, or depression. Many feeling lost, overwhelmed, or down during this time. This does not have to be!
You can find ways to oppose the fear and drudgery of the dangers of life with gratitude which will provide you with hope, a drive to persist, and a feeling your circumstances can improve. Gratitude is the act of feeling and communicating appreciation for the people, circumstances, and material possessions in your life. Through gratitude you cherish your present moments in ways that make you feel in abundance rather than deprived. The word gratitude comes from the Latin root gratus, which means “pleasing; welcome; agreeable.” Gratus is related to terms such as grace, gratuity and gratis, all signifying positive moods, actions, and ideas. Its Proto-Indo-European root, gwere, means “to praise, celebrate, and be in contact with the Divine.”
In other words, being grateful is equivalent to feeling the presence of the Divine in your life connecting to something larger than yourself as an individual includes other people as well. Gratitude is a feeling not just words and can put you in a state of bliss allowing you to see and feel the goodness, value, virtue, and benefit in all situations. From a scientific perspective, Alex Korb, PhD, and author of The Upward Spiral talks about how gratitude boosts the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and the hormone oxytocin, all associated with wellbeing and having a positive outlook on life. Deepak Chopra references in his article, Sowing Seeds of Gratitude to Cultivate Wellbeing, the clinical studies that prove the positive effects of gratitude on the recovery of patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic heart failure. Scientific studies have been providing clinical proof supporting what many religions and spiritual traditions have been practicing for thousands of years: gratitude does good.
You can feel and express gratitude through a focus on the:
• Past- positive memories and being thankful for elements of your childhood or past blessings
• Present- not taking good fortune for granted as it comes
• Future- maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude
• You can cultivate gratitude on a regular basis through:
• Expression: Nurture your relationships through verbal, written or mental communications expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Do not forget about showing gratitude to yourself as it will go a long way toward your happiness as well.
• Reflection: Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one your thoughts about what you are grateful for, why, and how it made you feel. There are so many reasons be grateful.
• Prayer/Meditation: People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as "peace"), it is also possible to focus on what you're grateful for (the warmth of the sun).
• Action: Actively envision realistic ways that your circumstances may improve taking steps to bring it from vision into reality. Exit out of your life people, situations, and things that do not bring you joy.
Recognize the blessings in your life thanking God for your breath, family, friends, talents, and everything else you have. Feeling and communicating gratitude requires no training only an open heart and mind-set. Gratitude will help you feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve your health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. It keeps you from taking good fortune for granted and remaining hopeful with an optimistic attitude that can be cultivated. Find your joy and success through gratitude regardless of your circumstances or fears.
“We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.” Neal A. Maxwell
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