Why It'sSo Important to Be Grateful for Everything You Already Have in Your Life
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Licensed Science of Mind Minister
In last week's post, I offered that the word "wealth" is about more than money. Wealth includes all the things you care about and everything that gives you a reason to want to live your life as well as possible.
Let's face it, though. We live in a consumer-driven world. Accumulating things is often (mistakenly) perceived to be more important than gathering and cultivating relationships with the many people who come into our lives. It's far too easy to get caught up in the idea that "more is better" when it comes to stuff. That is where the whole, "Keeping up with the Jones' thing came from, after all.
More is not necessarily better, however. And increasingly, individuals who consider themselves "Minimalists" are getting rid of a lot of their stuff. They are paring down to the "essentials" because they have come to realize that, in the long run, things don't make them happy.
No matter whether you are a Minimalist or not, what's essential is to learn to appreciate what you have.
Be grateful for everything you have.
The simple acts of feeling and expressing gratitude will add value to the rest of your life. Try it and see if you don't believe me. Skeptical? There is a whole science behind this point of view.
So, start by being grateful for your relationships. Recognize that money cannot buy true friendship. And it won't buy other essential bonds that are so critical to your happiness.
Make people your number one priority instead of things. Do whatever you can to foster meaningful relationships in your life.
Science shows that having good friendships with others improves your overall health. In fact, studies show that it can add years to your life. Lonely people don't live as long as more socially engaged people.
Techniques That Will Help You Feel More Gratitude and Appreciation
1) Start by keeping a "Gratitude Journal."
There are numerous ways to experience gratitude in your life. One highly recommended approach is to start keeping a Gratitude Journal. When you think of something you are grateful for, write it down.
At the beginning of this year as a New Year's promise to myself, I undertook the habit of writing five things that I am grateful for each day before I start about my daily routine. It helps me to focus on those things for which I am most thankful. It reminds me that I have much to be grateful for! It keeps me grounded, and for that, I am also thankful!
Keep your gratitude journal and pen with you. You can record thoughts as they come to your mind throughout the day. If that feels too cumbersome, you can do what I do and start your day with at least five things. Some people write down the things for which they are grateful at bedtime. It helps them sleep better.
You could even record your thoughts on your phone throughout the day.
Then at the end of the day, you could transcribe what you logged in your journal.
Regardless of the method, you use for tracking your thoughts, be sure you write them down. The act of copying your ideas in a handwritten journal is an essential part of the process. For one thing, you will see your list grow. And it is psychologically necessary to use a hand-written journal as opposed to keeping everything on your computer or phone.
Here's another great way to express your gratitude. Find some quotes about gratitude and write them down. Put them on your nightstand to remind yourself to feel gratitude for another day as you drift off to sleep. Put them on your bathroom mirror where you will see them in the morning. Keep them on post-its around your office. Having a reminder throughout the day will lift your spirits. Guaranteed!
Write Thank You Notes
Another tip to help you appreciate what you have is to write thank you notes to people more often. Write at least one card per week. Each of us has people in our lives that deserve our thanks for a variety of reasons. Sending them a note is out of the ordinary these days. They will be surprised, and it will brighten their day.
Some people are so encouraged by a handwritten note of thanks that they keep these notes in a safe place. I keep mine. When I get the occasional thank you card, I keep it. I have a memories box that was a special gift to me years ago. I use that box for just that kind of correspondence.
If you don't know who you should send a note to, consider. Maybe your a neighbor invited you to a backyard barbecue. Or perhaps a friend asked you to dinner or a movie and it was their treat. Do you remember a school teacher from long ago who made a profound impact on your life? Whatever the reason, find a way to let these people know how much their kindness meant to you.
2) Give to others to show your gratitude.
Another great way to learn to appreciate what you have is to give to others. Generosity is a critical element of being grateful. You can't be genuinely thankful for your blessings if you aren't willing to share them with others.
Even if you are not wealthy and cannot give a large amount of money to someone or a good cause, give what you have. Perhaps you can treat your sister to an ice cream cone when you are at the shopping mall. Or maybe you can pass offer a homemade treat to a neighbor who has been homebound due to illness.
Giving with a generous heart will always come back to you in a positive way. Let yourself live a life of abundance. Giving is one of the best ways to make this a reality.
3) Appreciate the little things in life.
Notice the so-called "little things." That is a quick way to rack up your appreciation for the life you are living and the wealth you already have no matter what your bank account says.
Don't wait for the feelings of gratitude to come when you get something big. Let the little things and minor moments you encounter each day lead to feelings of happiness. That is what accelerates more good things coming into your life.
When I was growing up, we never had a lot of money, but I was never aware of feeling "poor." In fact, as far as my family was concerned, I was aware of being very well off. I had a loving family with lots of aunts and uncles. I lived in a community where we had good neighbors who were always ready to help one another. We had a garden each summer that overflowed to the point of our giving extra bushels of beans and baskets of strawberries to our friends and neighbors.
In the context of what we "needed," we were genuinely overflowing with abundance even though our family's bank account wasn't always overflowing with cash.
The point is that I felt abundant as a child, and I remember it being a good feeling. It is one that is worth cultivating as an adult. So, whatever you need to do to create a sense of abundance, do it.
One of my online mentors was Louise Hay, author of many best-selling books and the owner of Hay House Publishing. While she was alive, Louise made it a central tenet of her life to feel and express gratitude every single day, and she encouraged others to do the same. In fact, she wrote a book entitled, Gratitude: A Way of Life. One of the things she is quoted as having said is this:
"I find that the more willing I am to be grateful for the small things in life, the bigger stuff just seems to show up from unexpected sources, and I am constantly looking forward to each day with all the surprises that keep coming my way!"
What a perfect way to wind up this second in a series of three on the idea of wealth, abundance and prosperity. Stay tuned for the third and final post next week.
Have you given a listen yet to my new Podcast, "Teachers in Transition?" If not, I invite you to listen on iTunes at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/teachers-in-transition/id1460021639 or on Stitcher at https://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=60271160.
I am excited to have launched this Podcast after two years of "thinking about doing it."
Please listen, share, and subscribe and review. I would love to hear your feedback and questions. Each week I will be tackling an aspect of stress and stress management alternating with career advice and professional development tips.
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