Gratitude – What’s the Big Bonus?
Gratitude? Well, here’s the honest truth: I’m naturally a critical person. I have a tendency to focus on what’s wrong, what needs to be fixed, or what could be better. With that kind of focus, it’s nearly impossible to be grateful!
An eye for possible improvements isn’t all bad. It’s a strength when applied to the right situations and when it keeps me learning and growing. Sadly, it’s easy for me to lean too much in that direction. When I do, I’m more negative than I want to be, my expectations are too high, and it leaves me feeling a whole lot of dissatisfaction in my life.
I’ve realized that gratitude is a choice – a deliberate effort to appreciate the little “blessings” that show up in my day. Unless I’m on the lookout for those blessings, I will miss them. That means viewing life through a grateful lens. And choosing to let stuff count.
Being thankful is an all year around sort of thing – not just around Thanksgiving!
And when life is better, I’m in a better mood, and that translates into better relationships! After all, no one enjoys being around someone who is negative and critical.
Another bonus to having an attitude of gratitude is that it has a positive effect on my health. It’s surprising just how great an impact your thoughts and feelings have on your health! Thankfully, I enjoy more peace in my life and better sleep too!
Practicing gratitude makes me be more optimistic. With that hope, it’s easier to spot opportunities and to see possibilities. I am pretty sure that opportunities and possibilities are always out there, but a lack of gratitude makes them so much harder to see.
A shift to greater gratitude in my life has enabled me to take greater risks and be less detoured when those risks don’t pan out the way I’d imagined. As a recovering perfectionist, making mistakes was terrifying. Now, choosing gratitude enables me to appreciate that I dared to take a risk and to learn what I can and keep moving forward. Gratitude – it’s made me more resilient.
Nothing drags me down more than negativity! I don’t know about you, but I have a tough time remaining negative when I choose to focus on the positive, on what I’m grateful for. In fact, I make it a daily practice to list at least five things that I’m grateful for every morning as a part of my time with God. It’s a vital part of setting my day up for success. When I struggle to come up with 5 things that I’m thankful for, I know that something is off and needs to be dealt with.
I’ve found that choosing to dwell (meditate) on what I have to be grateful for is energizing and improves the quality of my work. I also feel less stressed, more productive, and the quality of my work improves.
Is gratitude a Panacea? Well, almost! Having more gratitude impacts every area of life in a wildly positive way. And, as you well know, the last couple of years have been brimming with challenges! If ever there was a time for hope and a more positive outlook it’s now! It’s the perfect time to begin practicing gratitude or taking your gratitude practice to the next level.
What Are You Planting?
Think about the last time you felt angry. How did being angry affect your interactions with others, your ability to think rationally, or even your ability to focus and work?
Or the last time you were afraid – how did that change your behavior?
What kind of seeds are you planting? Anger? Fear? Envy?
Why not plant seeds of Gratitude?
Your feelings impact your thinking which impacts your behavior; your actions. Good feelings produce positive fruit while your negative feelings produce negative fruit. Think of your feelings as seeds.
“A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 7:7b
Practicing gratitude is not dependent on your circumstances. Even when life is crazy there’s something to be grateful for. For example, While lock-down might not be your idea of a good time (definitely not mine!), there were still things to be grateful for like…
- The opportunity to deepen your relationship with your family
- Tackle tasks that you’ve been putting off
- Time to read, journal, and grow closer to God
- Enjoy more time in comfy clothes (ha ha!)
- What would you add here? ______________________
Learning to appreciate the little things is what practicing gratitude is all about! Some of the “little things” that have made my list:
- A gorgeous sunrise
- A Duo call with my daughter and her kids
- Time to read and relax in the tub
- Time with my sweet grands
- Getting a blog written
- Having leftovers for a quick dinner
Don’t wait until you win the lottery or make your first million! Celebrate the little “happies” as a dear friend would say, that come your way! Train yourself to see the beauty in the midst of the most difficult circumstances! There’s always something to be grateful for!
Ready to make a powerful difference in your life? Make the choice to practice gratitude! I know it’s made a difference for me and it will make a difference for you too!
What are you letting count when it comes to practicing gratitude?
Be Brave – Take the Next Step!
Participate in the The Gratitude Challenge – 30 Days full of practical ways to weave gratitude into your life – some of them might surprise you!