When life isn’t fair, do you complain, or do you look for reasons to be thankful?
Being grateful is not a natural reaction when life isn’t going our way. Not when undeserving people get ahead while we lag behind. Not when the constant barrage of advertising and media insists we’ll be happier if we have nicer, newer stuff. Not when illness or tragedy strikes.
And yet, Paul exhorts us to be thankful in all circumstances.
Yeah, right. All circumstances? Like that makes sense.
But it does.
Why gratitude is the right attitude
Scientific studies support Paul’s wisdom, indicating that grateful people tend to:
- Be healthier
- Have better mental alertness
- Be better at coping with stress or problems
- Feel happier and more optimistic for the future
- Be more generous
- Attract more friends (because they are more pleasant to be around)
Because when we look for reasons to be thankful, we focus on the things that make us happy rather than the things that make us unhappy, which not only improves our mood, but enables us to make healthier life choices. (We are more prone to act and eat right when we’re in a good mood.) In addition, focusing on gratitude gives us a sense of perspective, an awareness of what really matters in life, which in turn helps us deal with our current frustrations and problems.
That’s why Being Grateful is one of my Ten Tenets for a Fuller Life.
Mom was right. Always say ,”thank you.” It’s good for your soul.
My gratefulness goals:
Form a daily gratitude habit. For many, keeping a thankfulness journal is the best way to reinforce a thankful outlook, but I am not a journaler. Instead, I try to start each day by thinking of two or three things that I am grateful for. And since I have so many things to be thankful for, I try to list new ones each day.
Look for reasons to say thank you. We all need encouragement, so I want to become more intentional about thanking others, verbally or in writing, whenever possible.
Remember, the Lord giveth. And sometimes the Lord taketh away. If I consider all I have to be a gift from God, given for a season as he sees fit, I’ll have an easier time being content with what I have, and, when necessary, letting go.
Learn to reframe unhappy situations. Instead of focusing on what is going wrong, I will choose to focus on what is still good. Easier said than done, but well worth the effort. Because when we manage to look past our problems and focus on the blessings we still have right now, it not only improves our mood but also helps the bad stuff look less bleak.
Will you join me in choosing an attitude of gratitude? I hope so.
6 Surprising Ways Being Grateful Makes You Happier
A Dose of Gratitude: How Being Thankful Can Keep You Healthy
Some books on gratitude:
Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons
Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life by M.J. Ryan
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp