It’s Thanksgiving and we all brush off our dusty gratitude hats and think about all of the things in our lives for which we are grateful. There is plenty written about WHAT we all are/should be grateful for, but I want to talk about WHY gratitude is important in the first place; not just now, but all year long. Here are four reasons why gratitude should be a big part of our lives.
1. Gratitude helps us fight off negative feelings. We all feel down in the dumps sometimes, it’s inevitable. When we do it can be hard to pull ourselves out of it. If we can think of the things we are grateful for, it changes our focus from the bad things in our lives to the good things, and it’s amazing how quickly the dark clouds dissipate and our moods improve.
2. Gratitude affects your overall attitude which, in my opinion, is the number one factor in determining success in all facets of your life: work, relationships, self-image, and general happiness.
3. Gratitude reduces complaining. Very often, if you think about it, people’s complaints are about things that they could actually be grateful for. Complaint: I have too much work to do, my wife has cancer, and the yard needs to be mowed. Let’s look at the things here for which I am grateful: I have a job, my wife is doing well in spite of her illness, I have a home that has a yard, and I have a lawn mower. If you can just turn it around like that, the problems often don’t seem quite so bad.
4. Gratitude, when expressed to others, helps them feel appreciated and valued, which comes back to us in the form of more of whatever you were grateful for! When was the last time you thanked someone for something, or expressed your gratitude that they are simply who they are. Try it sometime; you’ll be amazed at the reaction and everyone involved will be much happier for it.
As with many important things in life, it’s not always easy. Sometimes, when you’re in a bad mood for example, it is very difficult to see through the darkness enough to find things for which to be grateful. The first step in developing this habit is to be aware of it! This is the main point here: gratitude is ALWAYS an option.