Benefits of Gratitude

Stephanie Gish

What are you grateful for today? Chances are, you have a lot in your life to be grateful for. Since you’re reading this post, access to the Internet might be one. But, when was the last time you made a conscious–and continued–effort to focus only on those things, instead of impulsively voicing your complaints and frustrations of the moment? You might surprise yourself at how often many of us default to the negative (i.e. ‘my connection is slow!’).

I’ve written before about being grateful; how we should focus on what we can do in life, rather than on what we can’t. But, I recently finished reading “The Gratitude Diaries,” by Janice Kaplan, who shared what happened during the year she decided to always look on the bright side of life. Her book took my understanding of just how powerful gratitude can be, to the next level.

Being grateful is such a simple and easy thing to do, yet we often get wrapped up in negativity or a “woe-is-me” mindset. Kaplan goes deep and shares much of the science behind the effects of being grateful, even talking about how the immune system increases the number of white blood cells in response to emotions like worry, anger, and fear and how gratitude may counter those effects.

I’ve been diligent in keeping a gratitude diary of my own since reading her book; you’ve probably heard similar advice from many successful people to keep a daily journal. But until you’ve actually tried it, it can be hard to understand why it makes a difference. There’s really nothing to lose by trying it and your entries don’t have to be earth shattering (you may not enjoy work, but perhaps you are grateful for a compassionate co-worker, have one project you are passionate about, or appreciate the fact that it gives you the ability to provide for your family…look for any reason to be grateful).

Sometimes we hide behind negativity because we are too afraid to make a change (like finding the courage to start a new job) or we don’t want to look at how we might be part of the problem (perhaps you have a difficult time expressing to your boss that your workload is unmanageable). Simply taking a moment to appreciate where you’re at in life and what you have, can lift your mood and put you in the right frame of mind for the rest of your day…or allow you to relax and sleep better if you decide to journal at night.

In her book, Kaplan shared countless stories of how her relationships with friends–and even her husband–all improved from her new attitude. Everywhere she looked, positive things were happening and her whole life improved; both at work and in her personal life. And all she did was focus on showing gratitude and appreciation for what was in her life. It wasn’t easy at first, she admitted, but after enough practice, it did become second nature.

So today I’m grateful that I’m not in pain, that technology has given me this platform to share my voice, and that I don’t have to shovel snow during the winter! Don’t make it complicated. What you’re grateful for can be silly or significant.

Did you know? Grattitude is all about the attitude! @petertunneyart
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What are you grateful for? Share in the comments!

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