Gratitude???  What’s in it for me???

At this time of year we hear a lot about being grateful for all that we have.  In the United States we even have a day set aside to give thanks.  An outdated custom?  Superficial and trivial?  Or, perhaps the idea of gratitude is dismissed too easily.

Studies have shown that people who cultivate, as Oprah would say, “an attitude of gratitude,”  are far happier and have better  sense of well being and more energy than those who focus on the negative or just take things for granted.  Being grateful is more than just saying a token “thank you” now and then.  It is a conscious effort to be aware of all of the good in your life.  Developing a sense of gratitude might be a shift in gears for you, but it is well worth the effort.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.  Focus on what you have rather than on what you don’t have.  Do you have what you need?  What is it that you lack?  Would attaining it make you happier, or would you then look for something more that you want?  Do you differentiate between want and need?  Decide what is important – having or being.

2.  Think about the people who have helped you get to this point in your life.  Have you ever verbalized your thanks to them?  At this point in your life you are the product of hundreds of people who have impacted who you are and what you do.  How would it impact both you and them if you were to write an email or note to share a memory or word of thanks?  Showing gratitude for something, especially when it is unexpected, makes both you and the recipient feel better about who you are.

3.  Practice Patience—both with yourself and with others.  Recognize that people are almost always doing the best that they can in relationships, in fulfilling obligations and in helping you.  Remember this when you are thinking of complaining or getting angry.  Give others (and yourself) a break.  Think about the effort that is being made, and appreciate it.

Gratitude:  feel it, share it, express it, cultivate it, and you’ll be a happier and a better person because of it.