Gratitude is Everything
Words I truly live by. The more I am grateful for the more abundance I attract into my life. When I feel truly thankful, it leaves very little room for negative thoughts and feelings. I am less likely to focus on what I don’t have. It keeps me from falling into the comparison trap. It gives me a deep sense of joy in where I am today in my life. Every morning and pray thanks for all the things I am grateful for, big and small.
I don’t know about you, but I feel more grateful each day that my family is safe and healthy amidst all the negative news surrounding me and then I realize how much I take for granted. Are you feeling it too? Let’s dive deeper and learn the benefits of practicing gratitude.
Why is Gratitude so Important?
So glad you asked! Here are the benefits of practicing gratitude, according to scientific studies found on happify:
- Experience more positive emotions
- Feel more alive
- Sleep better
- Express more compassion and kindness
- Have stronger immune systems
Still not convinced? Let’s really dive into some serious scientific proof also from happify:
- That the brain we’re born with can be changed. Technically speaking, they call that neuroplasticity. (You can teach an old brain new tricks.)
- We can change it by adopting new thought
patterns, by training our brain as if it were a muscle, to overcome negative thoughts.
- All of us are hard-wired for negativity (blame evolution!) but can profoundly benefit from learning new ways to react and deal with everyday stresses.
- It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make a real difference in your life. A few simple and even entertaining mental diversions done regularly will change things.
Today, we need gratitude more than ever.
We live in a world where we are all at home, stacked on top of each other as we navigate work and school life. Imagine homes that don’t have private spaces for everyone? I’m one of them. My office is right smack in the middle of the Livingroom. The open plan sounded like a great idea way back when (LOL). I didn’t exactly have “pandemic” in my head when we were renovating.
It’s easy to lose sight of all the good we have in our lives. The uncertainty can cause a lot of fear and anxiety which does not serve us well. When you can experience pure gratitude, it will melt away the fears and anxiety that wants to keep resurfacing and allow more grace and creativity into your life.
You have the power to live a life of gratitude to become more responsive rather than reactive. You have the power to squash those darn negative thoughts. They are just that, only thoughts. If I can do it, so can you. Let’s explore how we can bring a more gratitude attitude to our daily life.
Now, I’m not saying you’ll never lose your marbles again. Goodness NO! That would mean you need to be perfect and let’s be real here, NONE OF US ARE PERFECT. Don’t buy into what other people’s lives look like. We all have problems one way or another. This is the comparison trap many of us fall into. “Why can’t we be more like them?” because truth be told, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It really isn’t.
Making Gratitude a Habit
Be Thankful Every Morning
So, what’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Think about it and don’t judge yourself. Just make note of it.
I bet you wanna know what I do, right?
I set my alarm an hour before the time I really need to get up. This is my time for morning prayer and meditation and yup, you got it…gratitude. Gratitude is part of my early morning prayer time. Before I even ask God for anything, I go down a list of things I am thankful for. Sometimes it’s the same list every morning, other times, there are new things to be thankful for but I can honestly say I wake up feeling grateful every day because of my early morning devotion.
Not feeling so thankful?
Here’s a scripture that really shifted my mindset that I mentioned in a previous post, Mommy Monster.
“Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”
-1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18
Did you ever thank God for something you normally wouldn’t be thankful for? It’s a tricky one, but it turned my life around. At first, I was an incredibly angry mom until I started turning to daily devotion. It was this very prayer and the post, 7 Ways to Pray When Your Child Goes Astray, written by Cindi McMenamin where she asked this very question. Usually, you don’t feel gratitude for the things you just aren’t thankful for, am I right? Was I lame to think otherwise? At first, I just didn’t know what this meant and then, the answer came to me.
My biggest struggle with my daughter is her addiction to her computer!
If you can relate, then I know your pain all too well. Talk about a power struggle and feeling helpless and hopeless. Watching your child fail is the hardest thing, isn’t it? It wasn’t a good place for me to be! But once again, I had to let go and let God. However, the very thing that triggered all my anger, stress, and worry became my comfort. How is that possible? Devine intervention. Something inside me said, be thankful. She is home safe. So I started praying this prayer…
“Thank you, God, that my daughter is home safe, in her room each night. Thank you that she isn’t wandering the streets and hanging out in places that may lead her down the wrong path in these teenage years when they are trying so hard to find out who they are. I surrender the need to be in control. I surrender the need to be right. I know you have a plan for her. Help me trust in you better”
As we surrender our children to God through prayer, we can trust that they are in His hands and He’ll do whatever work He wants to do in them for His glory. We can worry or we can pray. We can stress or we can trust. We can lose sleep by trying to control their every step or we can rest in the One who is already in control of their lives, whether they are acting like it or not-Cindi McMenamin
And after weeks of praying this prayer, my anger lifted. I was able to see my daughter through the lens of love instead of anger. I flipped a switch and the arguments stopped. My stress didn’t get the best of me. I became more responsive to her and MUCH less reactive. Years later…we have a very loving relationship. For me, her well being far exceeded the importance of her academic achievements. It’s the choice I made and I don’t regret it for one second!
Start a Gratitude Journal
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, it just takes FIVE minutes a day to practice gratitude. The 5-Minute Journal is a thing. I have one myself! However, there are so many amazing gratitude journals out there so do your research to see which one suits you. Stop making excuses and make a positive shift in your life. Takes you 5 minutes or more to enjoy your coffee, right? Why not enjoy it as you journal? What have you got to lose (except your peace of mind, your sanity, etc…)?
Take a blank journal and leave it where it’s visible at all times. Maybe it’s the family room or the kitchen island where you seem to gather the most. Have a brief family meeting to encourage each family member to jot down something nice about each other. It could be a “thank you” or a compliment. Both go hand in had to create a positive mindset for your family.
- I like the way you did your hair today
- I noticed that you put your dish away and I’m grateful
- I really appreciate that you got ready for school on time
- I love the shirt you’re wearing
Make it a tradition to read the journal out loud, giving each family member a turn to read what they wrote about others. This could turn into a great Thanksgiving tradition, don’tcha think? Another thought would be to read it weekly or monthly, at dinner or breakfast on the weekends. You can never spend too much time appreciating each other, I say!
Snail Mail & Email
Don’t underestimate the power of a hand-written note. I still LOVE to receive stamped letters in my mailbox and personally LOVE to write hand-written thank you notes myself. Besides, thank you note cards are so adorable, aren’t they? And picking out special stamps brings me such joy!
You can send a hand-written note thanking a friend, colleague, client…anyone. Surely you have someone to thank, don’t you? Don’t be silly. YES, YOU DO! I know if you put some thought into it, you’ll come up with someone!
However, no judgment here if sending an email or text message is your thing. A “thank you” is a “thank you” no matter how it is delivered.
Do Something for Someone Else
Volunteer for a non-profit event or organization on a regular basis. Doing something for others less fortunate will definitely put things in perspective.
- Take out & bring in the trash cans for your elderly neighbor
- Bring groceries to a friend/neighbor recovering from illness or injury
- Work at a food bank
- Volunteer in your community
Being my mom’s caretaker has allowed me to feel more grateful for her health instead of feeling burdened by her needs. Each morning I administer her medications and check her blood level as she has Type II diabetes. I’m grateful that I am able to do what I can to help her manage her health. Someday, I will need that help too.
All in all, it doesn’t take much to practice gratitude, but just a bit more effort to make it a habit. The more you practice gratitude, the more abundance you will have in your life. You can practice gratitude, and still work on creating a better life with purpose and passion. Your gratitude attitude will affect others around you. Start now.
Drop me a comment and share what your thoughts on gratitude. Is it a struggle? Have you had an amazing aha moment? I’d love to hear from you!