The Attitude of Gratitude: The Benefits of Living in Gratitude
The Attitude of Gratitude
Well, we have hit November, which means it’s a great time to talk about the benefits of living in gratitude. Believe me, we all need a reason to find the attitude of gratitude after the year we have been having. In a world of viruses, lockdowns, financial/economic fears, and elections it’s more than easy to get lost in the sea of negativity that is floating out there.
I get it, feeling thankful right now might seem like a nonsensical conversation in a world that is all up in arms over everything. Yet it’s exactly in those times that we need to find the joy and benefit that living in gratitude can truly bring. The sense of peace and value for your struggle is priceless.
How can feeling thankful for the things in life (even including your struggles) have any benefit you might ask. Science is still working on understanding the impact of gratefulness on the brain. How it strengthens the receptors in the medial prefrontal cortex. (the area of the brain that impacts empathy and social interactions). Meanwhile, if you look at the mental benefits living in gratitude can have on a person, the impact is obvious. Benefits like increased self-esteem, providing a sense of value, generating motivation creativity, and self-worth in an individual. More importantly, DECREASING the negativity in our lives. Bad habits, thoughts, feelings, and emotions tend to feel less powerful and all-consuming in the face of true gratitude.
My Journey with Gratitude
This year has given me a lot of time for growth and personal reflection. I have so much to be grateful for and yet I’ve spent eleven months bemoaning what I don’t have or haven’t achieved yet. Hell, if we are being perfectly honest, I have spent at least 25 of my 40 years doing just that.
I began asking around, to my therapist, to my nutritionist, even to my spiritual and religious peers/leaders, about how to lay down this constant burden of feeling less than so I can create the person and life I want. Want to know the strange part? They all gave me the same answer. Learn to be thankful for what I have done, the journey I am on, and continue to push forward. As well as learning in-depth about the practice of self-compassion.
I will admit that having a relationship with God has helped me understand that it’s okay to be thankful for what He has given me in life. Including my struggle. It’s taught me many things as I grow in this life and having that relationship with Him has helped me out of many places too dark to see through on my own. While having a relationship with a higher power isn’t a requirement for living in gratitude, I will attest that myself and those around me that have that relationship do find a feeling of lasting peace in that gratitude. Without it, my journey might have been harder to walk on.
Whether you are religious or not I’ll be talking later this month about all the ways you can find more gratitude in your life! So don’t worry about the how yet, let’s continue on with the why.
The Benefits of Living in Gratitude
Truly the benefits of living in gratitude are endless. Being thankful, or coming from a mindset that is grateful for what you have, can change your entire outlook on life. When you start to appreciate what you do have, no matter how little, the darkness of lost hope eases its grip. You begin to free yourself.
Just like everyone is different, how living with an attitude of gratitude will affect your life varies from person to person. Yet there is a baseline of what it can provide to every person in terms of their value and what they feel about and bring to their own communities. Let’s take a look at some of those baselines.
Breaking the cycle of endless negativity
How many times a day do you catch yourself lost in thought, and how often are those thoughts negative? It’s almost impossible for me to give you a number but I know at one point almost everything I thought or said had a negative spin on it.
I remember having a conversation with someone I worked with many years ago, and this person was so negative. The feeling of being completely drained of energy after talking to them was overwhelming at times. I recall telling myself “I hope to god I never get to be like that, it’s so annoying! How miserable!”. The irony is, not too many short years later I caught myself becoming that same person.
Every conversation I had felt like a complaint about something. When people would ask me how I was doing all that spilled forth was a complaint about work or my life. Then one day, I overheard a greeting, and the man’s response is something that to this day I will never forget. When asked how he was doing he said “Every day above ground is a good day.” At that moment I became aware of just how ungrateful I had become.
When you are busy being thankful for your life, and all that is in it, you become aware of your negative habits. Your thought patterns begin to change, and that positivity begets more positivity. Soon you are able to let go of the anxiety, traumas, and stress that have you in such a dark place. Trust me when I say living in gratitude is a warmer, happier place.
Living in Gratitude can be humbling
Often when you are stuck in an endless cycle of negativity, you don’t realize how self-centered or self-focused you become. In fact, you tend to become hyperfocused on yourself and how everything affects YOU.
Learning to live a life of thankfulness can be extremely humbling. By stopping yourself from that negativity, and focusing on things you should be thankful for in life it takes that self-focus and lands it on others. Like the people, pets, and things in your life that bring joy and peace to you.
It’s almost painful when you first start practicing gratitude. It takes a period of adjustment to get past the shame of not recognizing those amazing things in your life sooner. Realizing you’ve taken your life for granted is very humbling. The good news is that once you start practicing gratitude, you find a rich fulfillment in self and in your loved ones that you were probably missing out on before. It’s in those feelings that you start to fill the hole inside you that all the negativity can create. Furthermore, your relationships with others become richer and more engaging when you are finally able to share your appreciation with them. Everyone loves to be valued, and gratitude creates that value.
Strengthens Self-Worth and Self-Esteem
As I mentioned before in the last section, everyone loves to be valued. Living in gratitude creates that for others and most importantly for self. When you start to recognize the things in your life that you have to be thankful for, including the steps you’ve made on your own personal journey, that’s when you start to value yourself.
We all have things we want in life, whether it’s to have your dream body, a perfect job/career, start your own business, or raise a big family. Life doesn’t always go as we have planned. More often than not we get so focused on what didn’t go as planned, that we forget to be grateful for what went right. Just because it’s what you planned for, doesn’t mean its always what you were meant for. The pain of that can cause us to lose sight of all that we’ve accomplished. Dragging our self-worth down. Destroying our motivation and creativity.
When you stop focusing on what didn’t happen or hasn’t happened yet, and start looking at how far you have come as an individual, the trails you’ve survived, the traumas you’ve carried through life. Those milestones are accomplishments that you should be grateful for because they are the lesson on which you have been built upon.
For me this is a reminder that I may not be where I wanted to be yet, but I know I’m making those steps to get what I want someday. Looking back on what I’ve accomplished over this lockdown period, starting my blog creating a podcast, and finding my purpose are HUGE. I may not be where I want following wise, but I will get there. I can’t discredit all that I’ve been given just because I’m not where I want to be yet.
Appreciation is Powerful
Appreciation is one of the most powerful feelings a person can have. It creates motivation, determination, drive, and worth. When you appreciate someone for what they have done for you when they didn’t have to, that person’s sense of value skyrockets.
It would make sense that the same goes for self-appreciation. Living in gratitude affords you that self-appreciation. It allows you the space to be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. This is what real empowerment looks likes. What real beauty and self-worth stem from. When you look around at the world today and you see people hurting people, lashing out in argument or fear. It’s not gratitude and empowerment that they live in. No, in fact, it’s safe to assume those people are living a life lost in the chaos. Consumed by the darkness that is negativity.
I want to live a life full of appreciation. Yes, I’m worried about the world, and my future. I can feel my body tense up with anxiety if I let those fears consume me, but I have so much that I’m thankful for. My health, even when dealing with being sick from covid. My dog, who is probably the closest thing I’ll have to kids. The most amazing friends and family that I trust to see past my walls and into who I really am. They keep my chin lifted when my head feels too heavy to look up from the floor. I am blessed and thankful for them.
If you take one thing away from this today, let it be that APPRECIATION IS POWERFUL.
The Bottom Line
It’s easy to lose sight of the good things in our lives because for some reason we condition our brains to only focus on the bad things. So it really shouldn’t come as a shock that so many people are dealing with low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
By learning to live in gratitude, you take back the power over anxiety and depression. Your self-esteem levels up, along with your motivation and sense of value that you bring into this world.
Being thankful for all that you have accomplished, seen, and done in this life can humble you. Let it. Be humble in the knowledge that you are fulfilled and grateful for your life. Even if it’s not the life you imagined.
Most importantly, appreciation is powerful. Show your gratitude to those in your life that need it. The ones that are behind the scenes that keep you going. Your circle, your tribe whatever you call them. Empower each other with the acknowledgment of that appreciation.
Lastly, appreciate yourself. You are worthy of good things and you have made so many strides throughout your life. Don’t be afraid to be thankful for them! Stop letting that negative darkness keep you from seeing all the accomplishments you’ve done on your journey, all the hurdles you’ve overcome with strength and determination! Be thankful for your life, be thankful for your friends and most importantly be thankful for you!
Until next time my friends, I am so thankful for all of you in my life and I hope that these words help you in some way. Stay safe!
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