In the next series of posts, I am going to be sharing some insights from positive psychology author Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., author of “The How of Happiness.”
Life is not just about being happy, but I want you to think about life from this standpoint:
We each have the choice of our attitude and outlook on life: we can either choose to be unhappy, depressed, and miserable; or we can choose to be faith-filled, courageous, and realistically optimistic.
The first personal success factor for an optimal life is actually celebrated throughout the Bible.
Jesus Christ modeled this positive practice throughout His life on earth in the following passages:
What exactly is this first strategy for positive life change?
It’s the practice of counting your blessings, otherwise known as giving thanks!
If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart
Why is it that such a simple practice is so neglected?
Here are some reasons I can think of off the top of my head:
Some of us are just more geared toward pessimism.
When going through stress and hard times, it may be even harder.
And if we have a habit of complaining or pessimism, it takes more effort to give thanks than it does to complain.
It’s not too late to change.
Contrary to what you may believe, you are not a prisoner of your past or of your habits. You can change the course of your life starting today.
Here are some suggestions to help you develop an attitude of gratitude
Be Aware of the Benefits of Gratitude
Positive psychology researchers have shown that gratitude can promote upward spirals in your life. Think about it: when you start thinking about your blessings, it may prompt you to do something to express your thanks. When you express your thanks to a person in your life, it may prompt that person to offer you a favor or opportunity. That opportunity could be something that changes your life. All because you decided to give thanks.
Improved Mental, Physical and Spiritual Health
I don’t have a ream of statistics to share with you on this point, but medical researches have well documented the link between the mind and body. The more you practice gratitude, the more faith and courage you will muster. And the more positive you are in mind and spirit, the more healthy your body will be. Negative, depressed patterns of thinking take a toll on your body, mind, and emotions!
The Pursuit of Happiness: Gratitude Exercises
Here are some gratitude exercises to help you create a new outlook on life:
Decide to Be Grateful
Once you have examined and become convinced of the benefits of gratitude, you’ve got to commit to develop the discipline of gratitude in your life. i would encourage you to post some stickis on your dashboard, at your computer at work, or even on your bathroom mirror. “Practice Gratitude”
Keep a Gratitude Journal
There is something about writing things down that makes them even more real. Take time to write down at least 5 things you are grateful for on a daily basis. Do this for 21 days in a row, and you’ll find that gratitude changes your thinking and outlook on life.
Practice a Fears to Gratitude List
If you are going through an experience where you tend to be depressed or anxious, this can be a very helpful practice. Draw a line down the center of a page in your gratitude journal. On one side, list all the fears going through your mind. On the other side, right a gratitude statement that corrects or counters the fear.
I’m afraid I’ll lose my job. “I’m grateful that God will provide for all my needs”
I’m afraid my child will get cancer. “I’m grateful that God watches over all of His children. He knows what is best, and will be with me in every trial”
Choose a Specific Time Each Day to Give Thanks
I have found that giving thanks before going to bed seems to set the tone for my sleep and for my waking attitude. By focusing on my blessings, it puts me in a positive frame of mind, both conscious and unconscious.
Use Photos or Art to Express Your Gratitude
If you have a smart phone, you can take pictures to preserve images of loved ones, or of positive memories you have recently had. or you can draw out what you are grateful for. Pictures have a way of connecting our
Practice Expressing Thanks to Friends, Co-Workers, Neighbors, and Colleagues
One of my goals this year includes sending a thank you to every person who refers a new client to me. This post is inspiring me, because I have a few cards to write already! At work, you may have the opportunity to nominate co-workers for jobs well done. If you do not have a formal recognition program, you can at least write them a thank you note.
You may also want to consider writing brief thank you notes of gratitude to different friends in your life. Just because. This is also a good business networking practice. People love to feel appreciated!
Use texting or e-mail.
In this 21st century, this is a very postive use for technology, and a very easy way to express thanks to people in your life.
Take time to call someone on the phone just to let them know what you are grateful for: their friendship, something they may have done for you recently, or just that you know them.
For years, I’ve made a habit of calling my parents every Friday morning just to touch base and to keep our relationship current. We always end the conversation with an “I love you.” Years after they are gone, I will always remember our Friday morning conversations.
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