Grateful for Gratitude

Happiness, Mind

Being that it is the month of the Thanksgiving holiday, the concept of being grateful is something you hear mentioned often. But gratitude is something I ponder frequently, no matter what the time of year. When life seems hard or I start to feel anxious or depressed, I find that remembering all the things I have to be grateful for is a great antidote to those negative emotions.

So often while we are in the throes of some stressful or hard time that life has dealt us, it is easy to forget and under-appreciate everything good that we do have.

Gratitude is the cure to dissatisfaction, jealousy, and even greed. It takes out the part of the equation that is focused on what we are lacking and adds in the beauty of all that we already have.

There are many documented psychological studies that show the strong correlation between gratitude and happiness. Being grateful requires you to think about the present, taking one’s mind off of the worries for the future and the heartaches of the past. Focusing on the things that are good in life invokes positive emotions such as hope, love, and compassion. This puts you in a better mood which increases your energy level and gives you incentive. These feelings make it more likely for you to take positive steps and focus on and accomplish goals.

The act of showing gratitude makes those around you feel the same. Having someone express how grateful they are for you is always extremely moving. It is so much better than just being complimented or even told that you are loved. Your expression of gratitude for others spreads the same positive emotions to them, and they in turn also experience all those other positive effects.

It is so easy to lose yourself thinking about the bad things in life. Every day is bound to be filled with some amount of challenge; a sick child to take care of, a broken down car, stress at work, problems in relationships. The list has no end. But neither does the list of things that we have to be grateful for.

Gratitude encourages positive thinking. Positive thinking attracts positive things into your life. More positive things in your life = more things to be grateful for.

These are basic underlying concepts shared between ancient religious beliefs such as Buddhism, “new age” ideas like Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, and proven theories of modern positive psychology. They all agree that remembering to appreciate the good and be grateful for it is a major part of being happy. And I love the fact that such a simple thing as being grateful can make such a big difference in our happiness.

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11 Things to Remember Every Day

Happiness, Healthy Living, Mind

My own personal list of daily reminders for how to be happy, have peace, and follow my dreams.

(1) I am beautiful.
Inside and out. I was created from stardust and the infinite Universe. I am a unique creation with endles possibilities for happiness.

(2) Listen to and care for my body.
Drink water. Lots of it. Eat lots of fruits and veggies. Get plenty of sleep. Exercise. Do yoga. Be good to my body.

(3) I am loved and loving.
There are so many beautiful souls in this world whom I love and who love me also. The most important of these being the love that I have for myself. I only need to connect to feel this love. Call a friend or family member. Tell my mother I love her. Hug my kids. Do something kind for myself and/or someone else.

(4) Be grateful.
Focus on the good things and give appreciation for them. Give time and energy to those things that bring me joy instead of feeling bad about things I don’t have. Be grateful for all the good in my life and make the best of it.

(5) I am strong.
I have already proven this time and time again throughout my life. Even the fact that I take the time to focus on self improvement, heal past wounds, and consciously focus on my happiness is an immense sign of resilience, bravery, and strength.

(6)  This too shall pass.
To be remembered in times of hardship and also in times of joy. The most painful moments of my life will eventually just be a memory to grow and learn from. Every happy moment will also pass. They are all to be appreciated.

(7)  I am creative.
Give time to my creative outlets. Write a poem or ponder a thought. Draw a picture. Let myself be inspired. Read a book. Visit a museum or some other inspiring place. Go for a run. Play the guitar. Listen to music. Dance. Commune with nature.

(8)  Focus on my dreams and goals.
Both long term and short term. Make a to-do list of the daily tasks and feel the joy of checking them off. Make a list of dreams and long term goals and give attention and energy to it everyday. Enroll in the classes to finish my psychology degree. Practice and study in preparation to obtain yoga instructor certification. Plan that family vacation to Disney or the adults-only trip to South America. Even the smallest effort is still a step towards following my dreams. The more energy and focus I put towards the dreams, the happier I will be.

(9)  I am divine.
Pray and/or meditate. Realign my spirit with and feel my connection to God and Universe. Fill my heart with love and gratitude and then extend it out to the rest of the world.

(10)  Stop judging (myself and others).
No one is “perfect” according to society’s standards, and yet we are all perfect beings. I have the right to be here, just as naturally as the trees and the birds. I have no right to judge someone else’s life. I am not them, so I will never truly know what it is like to be them.

(11)  Smile. Be happy.
No matter what life has in store for me, I decide everyday how I choose to view the world. Make the choice to find the good in life. Make the choice to be happy.

.colorado flowers

(Bouquet of wildflowers picked while hiking in the Colorado mountains. 😀 )