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Gratitude is a habit — not just a feeling! Discover eight ways that changing your mindset can change your life!
Nancy is constantly negative and struggles to find anything good about her life. She frequently blames others for the current state of her life. Personal responsibility isn’t a concept that she practices. As a result, Nancy is chronically unhappy.
At home, she feels unappreciated by her husband and children. Her marriage isn’t fulfilling because her husband doesn’t shower her with gifts nor is he romantic enough. Her children rarely say ‘thank you’ and brag about their friend’s mothers successes.
At work, Nancy’s coworker receives the promotion that she believes should be hers. Rather than accepting that the coworker put in more work and is selling twice the volume she is, Nancy calls her male boss ‘sexist‘. She believes if she was a male, the promotion would be hers.
Nancy begins to think that life just sucks. She begrudgingly meets up with her friend, (Positive) Polly, for drinks on a Friday evening. After listening to Nancy rant about everything that is wrong in her life, Polly offers a suggestion, “Perhaps the problem isn’t with everyone. Perhaps the problem is you. Do you even hear how often you complain?”
Deeply offended, Nancy pays for her drinks and leaves. But on the drive home, Polly’s words play on repeat in her mind. She decides it wouldn’t hurt to evaluate the situation on a deeper level. By keeping a log of every complaint she makes, it doesn’t take long for Nancy to see that she is a large part of the problem. She logs a dozen complaints by mid-morning and exceeds 30 by the end of the day.
Something has to change.
Nancy Is Not Alone
Do you know how many times you complain every day? Surprisingly, 30 is the average number! This constant stream of fault-finding rewires your brain for negativity, opening your life to potential health problems, damages your career, and infects your relationships.
Complaining literally puts your life at risk — but what is the alternative? How can you break the cycle of being negative and complaining? Is it possible to shift your perspective to a more positive one?
The answer can be found in a simple yet difficult word: gratitude. Gratitude is simply the “quality of being thankful” (Oxford dictionary).
I know what you’re thinking. “But I’m always saying thank you! Isn’t that showing gratitude?“
The short answer: no. We are taught to use words like please and thank you; but if it’s not said with sincerity, the meaning goes right out the window. Gratitude is a hard quality to master when the world around us seems unfair and increasingly bad.
If you find yourself surrounded by negativity, it’s time to begin shifting your personal mind. We can’t force people or situations to change but we can embrace gratitude and encourage others by setting a good example.
Discover eight ways gratitude can change our lives — for the better!
Gift #1: Gratitude Lowers Stress
Picture this: You wake up late, skip breakfast, the kids are dragging their feet getting ready for school, and you get stuck behind a slow driver on your way to the office. School zones and a wreck prevent you from getting around the traffic.
You’re stuck where you are. What’s your default response?
If you’re like most people, there will be some complaining, negativity, general unhappiness, and perhaps some ugly words. You can’t change the circumstances you’re experiencing — but what if you change how you view the situation?
Enjoy the extra time to listen to an audiobook, your favorite song, or focus on the positive things happening in our life. Use the time to remind yourself that you have a roof over your head, a car to get to and from work, a job, food on the table, clothes on your back, good health, etc.
I find that when I focus on how my children’s grades have been good over the week and how my husband ran a few errands for me, saving a ton of time, my happiness levels stay elevated. Savoring those moments are much more enjoyable rather than focusing on resentment for the slow driver.
Gift #2: Thankfulness Challenges Adversity
The job you wanted wasn’t offered to you. The deal you needed didn’t come through. The company went bankrupt and you’re left holding the bag.
Everyone encounters adversity at some point. Yet some people are resilient. No matter what they face, they always seem to bounce back and turn obstacles into opportunities to better themselves.
What’s the secret? It’s simple—grateful people are focused on what’s going right, on what resources they already have, and how they can use these blessings to improve their fortunes. This enables them to cope with minor setbacks and crushing defeats without losing their will to carry on.
Gift #3: Gratitude Strengthens Relationships
After experiencing destructive first-marriages, my husband and I decided that we were going to learn from the past to improve the future. When you are focusing on someone’s faults, it’s difficult (if not almost impossible!) to feel love or act kindly toward them. The faults could be legitimate; however, there are numerous positive methods for confronting the issues.
Do you honestly believe you’re going to strengthen your relationship by telling the other person everything they’re doing wrong?
Look beyond the surface. Perhaps your spouse is forgetful but what else are they? Are they an amazing parent? A kick-ass teacher? An incredible support system to you as you’re building your side hustle?
Grateful people aren’t focused on what the other person is doing wrong. They’re looking at how much joy and contentment their loved one brings to them and they’re eager to return that joy.
Gift #4: Thankfulness Encourages Self-Love
Not only do we need to stop focusing on our loved one’s faults; but we should also avoid putting our own flaws and failures in the limelight. It’s easy to list why we feel unworthy, unlovable, and undeserving of good things. Thankfulness allows us to switch our focus to the positive things about ourselves.
Sarah always hated her feet. Once when she was in sixth grade, she complained they were too big to her father. She wanted small, dainty feet like all of her friends. Her father listened then said, “Sweet pea, those feet will take you anywhere you want to go.”
His words changed her perspective and made her realize how blessed she was to have two working feet when many people don’t. Even years later, Sarah would celebrate her feet by getting pedicures, moisturizing her heels, and finding cute shoes.
Gift #5: Gratitude Boosts Creativity
When you’re feeling happy and lighthearted, it’s easier to sit down to write the next chapter of your book, paint a picture, or crochet a blanket. Creativity will allow the ideas to easily flow!
If you focus on gratitude and the amazing blessings you already have in your life, it’s much easier to create. You can give your projects your full focus and tackle problems you encounter with ease and joy.
Gift #6: Thankfulness Reduces Materialism
Do you ever find yourself opening the doors of your closet and wondering how you came to own so much stuff? Maybe parts of your home are even inaccessible due to the extra clothing, blankets, or spare parts you keep around.
An easily forgotten gift from gratitude is that it reduces materialism. After all, if you’re grateful for that warm winter coat that flatters your figure, why on earth would you keep three other ones that don’t fit?
Gift #7: Gratitude Promotes Selfless Giving
There’s a story in the Bible that illustrates the joy of giving. During a temple (church) service, some attendees begin donating vast amounts of money in an effort to impress others. Then a widow shyly comes forward and shares the equivalent of a few cents.
Yet the widow is the one who’s praised in the story. It’s not that she gave so much. She gave far less than anyone else. But what she shared was everything she had!
When you regularly meditate on all your blessings and consider how much you’ve been given, it’s easier to share the abundance. You may not have everything you want today but chances are, you have more than you need in at least one area of your life. Will you be generous with your abundance?
Gift #8: Thankfulness Improves Your Health
Giving thanks is a wonderful way to improve your health. In fact, people who regularly take time to practice gratitude have cortisol (the stress hormone) levels that are up to 20% lower than the normal population (UC Davis Health).
But the benefits don’t stop there. Gratitude also lowers your blood pressure, improves your sleep, and decreases chronic pain.
Some studies have even shown that a regular gratitude practice can improve your overall immune function, making you less likely to get sick.
Gratitude Is A Habit (Not Just A Feeling!)
Embracing a grateful spirit doesn’t mean you’ll never have another bad day. But it does mean that you’ll approach these days differently. Instead of focusing on everything that’s going wrong, you’ll square your shoulders and look for the silver lining. Because you know if you search hard enough, you will find it. That’s the power of gratitude!