Gratefulness


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One of the most exciting findings to emerge out of the positive psychology literature is the positive impact that adopting “an attitude of gratitude” can have on us. Given that we recently celebrated Thanksgiving, the holiday season is the perfect time to start intentionally cultivating gratitude in our lives. Some of my Facebook friends post “Thankful Thursday” (thumbs up to my NRC friends) updates that highlight at least one thing that they are thankful for and while other Facebook friends posted daily thankfulness updates throughout the month of November. Both ideas are terrific and worth replicating. There are a number of ways to cultivate gratitude in your life!

One way that I have been cultivating gratitude in my own life is by watching daily a youtube
video on gratefulness that my sister-in-law, Judy Bloom, linked to on her Facebook page on Thanksgiving Day. The video starts out with a young girl talking about the shallowness of watching TV instead of using the mighty power of our imaginations. Then, a poignant narrator takes over and his first line is, “You think that this is just another day in your life. It is not just another day. It is the one day that is given to you…It is given to you, it is a gift, and it is the only gift you have right now and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.” Indeed, the only appropriate response is gratefulness. It can be so easy to take our lives for granted and watching a video like this reminds us how important it is to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives, including our eyesight, the weather, and electricity. As the video says, “If you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.” We all need to spend today and every day well.

There are multiple other ways to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.” For example, my friend, Erin, keeps a gratitude journal. She writes down five things every day that she is grateful for in her life. Some day the list is closer to ten or fifteen things, but she always writes at least five things. One of her favorite things to do is flip back through the journal and reread what she was grateful for last week, last month, or last year. Sometimes the old entries are funny or poignant, but in either case it helps her intentionally maintain a mindset of gratefulness.

Another example is my former student, Kathleen, who sends positive notes to remind her friends she is grateful for them. She writes quick notes jotted on note cards highlighting something about the person that makes her grateful to have him or her as a friend. While the process contributes to Kathleen’s mindset of gratefulness, it also serves as a bright spot in the day of the recipient. A win-win!

Here are three links with more ideas about how to cultivate gratitude in your life:
http://www.happylifeu.com/Attitude-of-Gratitude.html
http://thinksimplenow.com/happiness/attitude-of-gratitude-5-tools-for-appreciation/
http://theinspiredroom.net/2008/10/27/20-little-attitudes-of-gratitude/

What do you do to foster an “attitude of gratitude”?