everyday grateful

“I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life.” Dido

On the morning commute to my office I am greeted by the ever-changing panorama of the mountains. I silently breathe “Thank You” to the universe for creating such majesty. I often use the remainder of my drive to count my blessings. I am grateful for the breath that keeps my body and mind alive and engaged, grateful for the music that has validated my pain and joy, grateful to own a car, engineered by experts to enhance my driving experience, grateful to have attracted a diverse, genuine, fascinating mix of people into my life.

Gratitude is defined as a thankful appreciation for what we receive, whether tangible or intangible. When we are grateful, we acknowledge what’s right and good in our lives and the world. Often we recognize that the source of goodness lies, in part, outside of us. This element of gratitude helps us to connect to something larger than ourselves. These connections can be a connection with other people, nature, or a higher power.

The research from positive psychology shows there is a consistently strong link between gratitude and well being/happiness. Gratitude helps us experience more positive emotions, savor good experiences, improve our health, cope better with adversity, and develop stronger relationships. Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman (the father of Positive Psychology) had students write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who hadn’t been fully thanked for their kindness. After writing, delivering and reading the letter, these students showed a huge increase in happiness scores with benefits lasting a month.

Below are my top five ways to lean into everyday gratefulness:

  1. Write a thank you letter to someone you have not sufficiently thanked (it even could be to yourself:-) Acknowledge the internal qualities of that person along with the impact they had on your life. Deliver and read it in person if at all possible.
  2. Count your blessings. Choose a time of day or day of week to consider all of the elements that have contributed in a positive, healthy way to your day/week. Be specific and detailed about your blessings and recollect the feelings associated with the blessings.
  3. Thank some one or some thing mentally. “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Meister Eckhart
  4. Keep a gratitude journal or jar. Write something specific you were grateful for on a daily basis. Periodically review your journal or pull a past gratitude from your jar. Note any feelings you experience while reading the gratitude.
  5. Increase your awareness of times you are focusing predominately on failures and “what’s wrong” in your life or your self. Label this the prosecuting attorney in your mind. Make a realistic/affirming case from the defense attorney perspective. What’s going well? What improvements have you made? What can/have you done differently that worked?