Is being grateful another way of faking happiness, or convincing yourself that what you have “settled” for in life has its merits? Does saying, “Thank you,” seem disingenuous, especially when what you are begrudgingly showing gratitude for are things that seem like they should be a given in life? You always hear some sort of comforting statement being said like, “Well at least you have your health.” How many times do you hear that and simply brush it off thinking that’s not enough? Well, it’s true, it may not be enough, but it is offered up as an anchor to you from floating into negativity. It’s something that you can “go to” when times are difficult and find satisfaction in the abundance of your fortunes instead of dwelling on the iniquities of your life.
Not only should we offer up appreciation for the little things in our life to suit our needs, but a finely timed, “Thank you,” has the power to brighten up others. It is often times unexpected and unbidden, but those simple words can bolster a teenagers confidence, make a housewife’s load a little bit lighter, or give a positive ending to otherwise strenuous work day. After all the word “thank” means we have been seen, acknowledged, and praised for our efforts, be it ours, or someone else’s’. Now I ask you, who doesn’t what to be praised now and then?
Being grateful may seem like a simple concept, but for some of us it is a conscious daily battle to find worth in what we have and to not see the absence of what we want. For instance you may be thinking, “I have a great job, but why didn’t I get that bonus,” or “I am in great health, but I can’t lose that ten pounds.” It is essentially the same story of when you get a new suit, and then you want the shoes, then the purse, then the earrings to match or for you guys the tie. It’s never enough even though we thought it would be enough with the new suit, but “not so much.” We adapt to what we have and see it as our “normal.” The technical jargon for this is called the hedonic treadmill. To put simply the more you prosper the more your expectations and desires increase at the same rate. So much like a treadmill, you keep walking and walking and yet remain in the same place. This is the exact moment where giving thanks proves itself to be vital to your happiness. We all need to look at what we have accomplished, and find joy in what we have been given; only then can we be happy with the whole picture and satisfied with ourselves.
Below is a simple and helpful technique that you can take advantage of daily in order to see the positives in your life and encourage your progression to feeling more fulfilled, content and grateful.
1. For starters, each day, write down five things that you are thankful/grateful for. An example would be, “I am grateful for the time I spend with my son.”
2. After you write what you appreciate that day, expand on it, by writing what that thing or person does for you and how you feel as a result of having it part of your life. An example would be, “I am grateful for the time I spend with my son, because it makes me feel loved, and gives me a sense of accomplishment at the great man I have raised.”
3. The act of repetition is just as important as what you write down, so this technique will work best if you write your five things to be grateful for consistently for 30 days. The acting of writing it down and delving deep into each person or event helps retain the emotions that you are feeling, plus you can look back to it when you need a boost. Starting now will work perfectly because once Thanksgiving rolls around you will be one happy pilgrim.