January 31, 2010

Gratitude Is A Powerful Thing - Being Grateful Can Change Your Life

Gratitude, I've found, is a powerful thing.  When I was younger - working as a lawyer in a swanky downtown law firm - I didn't think about being grateful very often.  I was too busy, living that anything-but-simple lifestyle.  And if you'd asked me, I probably would have thought it was a sweet idea, somewhat corny, maybe I'd get around to it later.  I probably would have put "remember to be grateful" on my To Do List.

Today, I know better.  Being grateful for what you have is a very wise thing to do.  It lessens your stress, it helps you focus, it makes you happy and content.  Yes, no matter how bad a crisis you are in, stopping to be thankful for what you have at this very moment is important.

I also think it's essential to integrity, and honor, and courage ... but that's too much for this little blog post.

So, how to be grateful?  There are lots of books out there, both Christian and not, that give advice on learning this gratitude habit.

For me, it's a matter of every morning (for sure, because you start the day out powerfully) and periodically throughout the day, I thank God for as much as I can possibly recognize as a good thing in my life, and nothing can be too trivial.  Here's some of the things that I thank God for:

  • hot water
  • a shower
  • shampoo and conditioner
  • a washer and dryer 
  • a washer and dryer IN MY HOUSE
  • a roof over my head and sound walls that keep the rain out
  • that peaceful, cozy feeling of listening to the rain falling outside, while I'm toasty warm under the covers
  • my bed 
  • my pretty quilt and comfy sheets
  • coffee
  • a fridge 
  • electricity
  • the ability to think
  • the ability to pray
  • that He listens to me
  • that He gave us the Bible
  • that there are churches and missionaries and charities to help people
  • that I can see, and hear, and speak, and think
  • that I'm healthy
  • that my loved ones (including my pups) are healthy
  • that I write for a living
  • that I love what I do for a living 
  • that I live in the city and state and country that I do 
  • for jokes
  • for laughter
  • for books
  • for the ability to read
... well, you get the idea.  This is all about gratitude, now.  My prayers asking that someone be helped, or comforted, etc. aren't part of this topic - so, yeah, I talk to God a lot when you start breaking all this stuff down.  Good thing He created patience, right?

However, the power of gratitude isn't exclusive to followers of Christ.  There is an energy that comes from stopping to survey where you are, in the very present moment, and see everything that is good in that moment and appreciate it, that is positive and electrifying.  And clarifying.

Really want to rally yourself into moving forward into a happy day?  Go thru all you can think about to be grateful for this very day, and ponder Haiti for a minute.  Now, all that consideration of electricity, and a coffee pot, and hot water for a shower doesn't seem so trivial does it?

Things are good, and everything's going to be alright.  Get out there and live a quality day!!!!

For more on gratitude:

1.  Books to Read

Gratitude - A Daily Journal by Jack Canfield

Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You by Deborah Norville

Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DuMoss

2. Studies to Review

Emmons, R. A. & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-389.


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"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." - 1 Thess. 16-19 NLT
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