As a kid, I had to pray before meals and every night before sleep. As a rebellious teenager, I really didn’t feel like it anymore. Are you grateful today? Why does that matter?
In my twenties, I even deregistered from the Catholic parish. Seeing that misery in Northern Ireland or the Middle East, for example, only because one party believed in a different God than the other party. Not for me.
As a consequence, praying was off-limits for me as well.
I still don’t pray. Yet nowadays, I do express my gratitude for my life, for my husband, my family, and all other good things that happen to me on a daily basis.
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What good does expressing gratitude do?
The other day I had a really bad mood. Almost the whole day. When I was finally able to shrug my anger off, I realized it’s very rare nowadays that my bad moods last for such a long period.
In my journal, I write down on a daily basis all the things I am grateful for. As with every new habit, this was harder when I started than it is now. It used to cost me a lot of energy to think of even one thing I was grateful for. Now a list of 5 to 10 items is an easy job to write down at the end of the day.
This list doesn’t have to contain only the big, important items. At times, being thankful for a stranger that said hello while passing or a glass of water when I was thirsty is just as meaningful as being healthy.
I am grateful for being alive today. It is my joy and pleasure to live another wonderful day.
Looking back grateful, propels you forward
Being grateful is always a reflection on what you experienced and accomplished in the past. Looking back is very important because it results in the positive feelings that make us feel proud. As well of ourselves as of others.
Such positive feelings also help us to handle new challenges, big and small. The challenges we face today, as well the challenges of tomorrow, or even next year. Being grateful for what we’ve experienced and accomplished creates room for new experiences and accomplishments.
That you are grateful today fuels the motives that propel you forward tomorrow. It’s this energy that also enables you to be grateful the next day, and the day after.
Tell others you are grateful for them
My communication style is Controller. I like to go from A to B in a straight line and move on after I get there right away. Resulting in being way too brusque for some people and unintentionally hurting them.
Telling others I am grateful they are in my life and inspiring me, are things I must keep reminding myself to do. It’s worth the effort!.
Giving others a compliment or offering them a small token of my appreciation gives them a good feeling, but as you can imagine, it makes me feel good as well. How’s that for hitting two nails with one hammer!
I always like to see it as a chain reaction as well. If I make someone else happy with a compliment, I have this mental picture of them returning the favor to another person. Can you imagine what this would mean for the world if this became an endless loop?
Inspiration comes in many forms
Alice Herz was a Jewish pianist who had been imprisoned during the Second World War. Despite the humiliations she endured she still was able to see the good in life and to be thankful.
She kept saying everything is a present, even when her only son died before her in 2001. She died in 2014, when she was 110 years old, and played the piano almost to her last days. Which by the way was probably why she got that old in good spirits with a sane mind.
What an amazing woman. Tony Robbins had an interview with her when she was 108. Fantastic to see.
What are the benefits?
- Even when you fake being grateful in the beginning, you will end up feeling happy;
- A positive mindset lets you see more possibilities;
- If you read old entries in your journal you discover the things that give you real pleasure;
- You become more appreciative of the small things in life;
- Being thankful can even lower blood pressure;
- Your relationships deepen;
- It’s easier to make new friends;
- You sleep better;
- Improves your self-confidence.
Do you need some inspiration?
If you have difficulties coming up with things to be grateful for, this list might help you.
- You got out of bed this morning;
- A stranger smiled at you;
- Your family;
- You learned from a mistake you made;
- Your spouse said “I love you”;
- A friend called;
- Morning coffee;
- Your creativity;
- The interesting book you are reading at the moment;
- Ability to see, hear, taste, feel, smell;
- Today’s weather;
- . . .
Just thinking about what you are grateful for, helps. Writing it in a diary or journal is better because the action of writing and later reading it ingrains your gratitude into your mind even more.
Handwriting enforces the benefits more than writing it on the computer because you will use more parts of your brain when you write than you do when typing on a keyboard.
And if you want more impact, you can share it with someone you like and trust.
Be grateful for all that you have, accept all that you don’t, and actively create all that you want.
Are you grateful today?
I am no longer as dismissive of religions as I used to be. Yes, terrible things still happen in the name of a God. But I know plenty of people who are greatly benefiting from their faith.
Am I writing my daily list because I am no longer so dismissive or am I more lenient because of that list? I do not know. As far as I am concerned, that is a chicken-or-egg question.
It doesn’t matter how something works, as long as it works. Do you agree?
In a lot of religions it’s customary to say grace, but if you are not religious like me, do you make it a habit to be thankful on a regular basis? Let us know in the comment box below.