Gratitude is a Choice
The word thankful is defined as someone feeling or showing gratitude.
When you are pleased and feeling grateful for what you have, or during times when nothing seems to be going wrong in life, it feels much easier and natural to show appreciation and to feel thankful.
“Being grateful all the time isn’t easy. But it’s when you least feel thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you: perspective.” – Oprah Winfrey
Despite any layering of difficulties in our lives, gratitude is always a choice.
So, why would you, and how do you develop a sense of gratitude during these difficult times?
Attitude of Gratitude
When it feels natural and it becomes habit to express thankfulness in all areas of your life, whether for big or small things and with regularity, you can claim an attitude of gratitude.
With an attitude of gratitude, you can shrug your shoulders and say, not because it does not exist, but because you refuse to let it take a bite out of your peace, “What pandemic?” or “What bad news?”, and you will say it without thinking about it. You will say it with conviction—and you will feel it.
Why Being Thankful is Important
Gratitude is essential to our well-being, and during challenging times like now, practicing thankfulness is more important than ever.
Gratitude can help build relationships, build empathy (maintain a soft heart), improve self-esteem, bolster both mental and physical health, and build resilience, so you can recover quickly from difficulties that you encounter in the future.
Having a heart of gratitude does not mean you feel happy all of the time, but it does give you the ability to accept the bumps in life, find order in chaos, turn confusion into clarity, and reduce anger or bitterness. It is a way to find peace in today’s world and to have a hopeful vision for your future.
Ways to Grow and Maintain Gratitude
You can lay the foundation for gratitude and begin benefitting from it today by implementing some simple measures.
Keep a daily gratitude journal. You do not have to write a book—start with three things a day you are grateful for. Journaling will help you keep a running record of what you are thankful for and it gives you a way to refer back to the positives in your life. Journaling helps you build optimism.
Be aware of what challenges you. Make it a practice to dig deeper and find the silver lining in every negative or difficult situation. Do not look for the “big” things in life that make you feel happy. Recognize that there is nothing too small to be thankful for.
When something taxing happens, ask yourself what did I learn from the situation? What did I gain from the experience?
Most of us have encountered difficulties in our lives, and we can look back and see how the “bad” helped to form us into the “good” functioning person that we are today.
Spend Time with Loved Ones
During the pandemic, it can be difficult to get out and spend one-on-one time with loved ones but socializing with others can be a significant factor in your mental health. Find a way to get together with your loved ones, and that may mean doing so through technology. Connecting regularly with those that you love can help diminish feelings of negativity and can help you feel better about your life.
Pay it Forward
Show gratitude to someone in your life by voicing your appreciation or doing something helpful in a small way. Do so with no expectations of getting anything in return, just invest in someone else. This makes their (and your) world a better place and creates a sense of thankfulness.
Feeling Thankful for Exactly What?
To sum it up, you can cultivate gratitude in your life today, but to feel thankful you do not need a “what.” You need a mindset—an overall healthy attitude of gratitude. So, the question “Feeling thankful for what exactly?” becomes null and void.
Are you claiming a perspective of being thankful today, and making it your way of life?
If you do so, you will no longer find yourself grasping at straws and looking for something to be thankful for at Thanksgiving. You will carry your attitude of gratitude over the threshold of the new year, and you can do so for unlimited years to come!