November is “National Gratitude Month.” You’ll find a lot of content on the internet containing people expressing thanks for various things, especially as we get closer to Thanksgiving.
Why express or acknowledge gratitude? That is, expressing thanks or appreciation for something.
To answer that question, let’s look at three things:
- What are the benefits of gratitude?
- How do we practice gratitude when we don’t feel it?
- How can focusing on gratitude or positivity change the outcome of your circumstance?
What are the benefits of gratitude?
According to Healthline, when you express gratitude, you can reap the following benefits:
- Improved immune system
- Improved mental health
- Better relationships
- Increased optimism
With that list, I’m already interested in exploring this topic further!
How can we practice gratitude when we don’t feel it?
Do you have days where you feel like there’s a gray cloud over your head that you can’t get out from under? If you answered “no” I want to chat, because that’s incredible!
Since you and I are human, we’re going to have those bad days or seasons - when we feel like we are failing or drowning. What to do?
Go to the fundamentals of life. No matter how bad life is, you can always dig deep enough to find a blessing.
Do you have a roof over your head? Food in the fridge? Clothes in your closet? Someone in your home, or even in your life if not at home, to love and care for? Enough money to put gas in the tank (even if it is painful)?
If you can answer yes to most or all of those questions, you are already blessed beyond many people, both currently living in this world, and certainly those who have gone before us in history.
Thinking about the provision of the basics, and what you do have, provides a better starting point than worrying about what you don’t have. Would you agree?
It helps to divide all the physical things that fill up your life into “wants vs. needs” to get a better perspective. If your needs are accounted for, that is a basis for being extremely grateful.
Here’s an example. Your friend Steve is a software developer that just got laid off from his job. He is tempted to wilt into despair, wondering how he will pay rent next month. What are some things Steve has that will help him move forward? He likely has, in his home, an internet connection and a computer with which to apply for more jobs (and post on LinkedIn that he is available for work). He likely has colleagues that can keep their ear to the ground for him. He probably also has all the basics we listed above. Whether he realizes it or not, he is in a very favorable position.
How can focusing on gratitude change the outcome of your circumstances?
You’ve likely heard this quote before:
“Life is 10% circumstances and 90% how you react.”
- Charles Swindoll (similar quotes by many others)
The attitude behind that quote is incredibly empowering, and will change your life dramatically for the better if you act on it.
By choosing to be grateful (counting your blessings), and refusing to be a victim of your circumstances, you can change your outlook, and therefore, the trajectory of your life. Because your outlook defines the trajectory of your life.
One little hack I like to use is editing myself from saying, “I have to” to “I get to…”
I have to clean the kitchen = I get to clean the kitchen, which is evidence that I had food to eat!
My kids are disrespecting me; I have to punish them = I get to have a tough conversation with them that will help them become better humans. It may be difficult but also character building for me, too!
I have to do a tough project at work! = I get to stretch my boundaries and learn something new!
My friends never call me; I have to find friends that care about me = I get to reach out and see how my friends are doing; I haven’t heard from them in a while.
I could do this all day - hopefully you get the idea. 🙂
Ultimately, it is owning that 10% rule mentioned above and reframing things in your favor. Doing this will shift your mindset into one of empowerment and gratitude. And good things happen naturally when you have a positive, grateful attitude.
Have you seen this play out in your life?
An example. When you encounter someone who is grumpy, you try to get away from them as quickly as possible. But when you find someone who is smiling or laughing, you are attracted to them and want to be in their presence longer. That person is giving out good vibes, and giving them in return.
This is the time of year when counting your blessings is popular, and rightly so. But it doesn’t need to be limited to November. I think you’ll find that when you focus on the positive, and what you “get to” do, you’ll get out of the slump you might be in. Be careful though - you might even find yourself smiling and passing cheer to others!
Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, or a time when reframing your attitude helped you get out of a bind.
Happy National Gratitude Month!