Want to know a simple way to increase your enjoyment of life 100 percent? Develop an attitude of gratitude! Thankfulness in the heart makes all of the struggles and trials of life more bearable, and increases your joy in the good times. So how does gratitude work, and what are some things a person can do to build more of it into their life?
If you’ve been working on the goal of having a more positive attitude toward life, gratitude is a natural outcome. The first step in developing a more thankful spirit is to take a good look at the things in your life that are going well. Sometimes life feels like a roller coaster – up and down, up and down. But in reality, if you look well, you’ll see that there are challenges happening during the up times, and good things happening during the down times.
The goal, when developing gratitude, is to accentuate the positive, as the old song says. Put your focus on those good things. Remember the other old gratefulness song, “Count Your Blessings” from the musical, “White Christmas?” In the song, we are admonished to picture curly heads sleeping in the nursery. Do you have children? What nicer thing is there to be thankful for than your children, grandchildren, or young friends.
Health, family, and basic provisions are other things that are often overlooked when someone is evaluating all the trouble in their life. In fact, if you are able to read this on your own computer, you are probably in the top one percent of people in the world when it comes to wealth. Did you ever think about that?
Maybe you have challenges and disappointments in these basic areas of life. Maybe you have a handicapping condition or are living with chronic pain or illness. Maybe your family life is filled with heartache. Maybe the bills are piling up and you can’t figure out how you can ever meet them. Does this mean that you can’t find a reason to be thankful? No, of course there are reasons to be thankful.
But even more important than why you can be thankful is why you should live a life of gratitude. Studies have been done in which participants kept journals recording either things they were thankful for or each day’s hassles. The results were that the thankful journal keepers had more energy, better health, more hope for the future, and generally felt better about their lives as a whole. In fact, one long term study showed the more thankful people to live almost seven years longer than the least thankful!
Religion often plays a role in developing gratefulness. If we acknowledge the benevolence of a higher power who gives us our health, food, ability to work, and even the air we breathe, it helps us realize that we are not really responsible for everything we have. It is at the same time freeing and humbling to realize that we are not completely in charge of how things go in our lives.
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