The many benefits of a simple, thank you
Steps to Success: An Attitude of Gratitude
It is the greatest virtue described Marcus Cicero (circa 50BC). There are articles which claim it can transform your life, studies that suggest it is an antidote to depression and Oprah Winfreys website says that its a first step to ending violence. What am I talking about?
A simple: Thank You.
Gratitude is defined as a state of being grateful; of thankfulness. Research studies show that an attitude of gratitude, practised on a regular basis can have such reported benefits for the practitioner as:
* More happiness
* Better sleep
* Fewer symptoms of illness
* Reduced depression and anxiety
* More likely to help others
* Improved relationships
* Greater willingness to exercise
* Less aggressive behaviour through enhanced empathy
* Greater optimism
* Increased likelihood to progress towards goals
Who couldnt use a few of these?
Focusing on what we have and what we are grateful for, rather than what we lack, generates positive feelings including satisfaction, contentment and calm. Consider it like looking at a hand thats full over one that is empty. Which one is going to make us feel better?
Recognising our gratitude to others helps us connect better with them while the process of being grateful brings to our attention what is important to us generally. Gratitude is the foundation for an abundance mentality; an inner sense that we have and are enough, which itself frees us from feelings of fear and selfishness. And its a great tool for putting problems into perspective and reframing obstacles as learning opportunities.
Ill often suggest to clients that they start a Gratitude Journal, especially if they come to me feeling stuck in a negative pattern or are feeling defeated. There are many books on this subject, testimony to what a powerful process it can be and all it really involves is taking the time to write down the things we are grateful for.
At least once a week, try writing five things you are appreciative of. It could be time spent with a friend, a walk on the beach, an inspired idea If youre struggling to come up with them, ask yourself:
* Who or what is important to me and how do they enhance my life?
* What if I didnt have these things? — reflecting briefly on life without certain gifts can stimulate gratitude
* What was I able to do today that I am thankful for?
* Who/What have I enjoyed today, been comforted by or felt good about?
* Who can I thank for the lifestyle, material things and the personal and public freedoms I enjoy?
* What can I learn from the problems I perceive? What life lessons are they presenting me? How can I grow from them, stretch my creativity solving them and be grateful for this opportunity? Oprah describes a gratitude for our negative experiences as the path to true forgiveness (www.oprah.com)
Even if weve had a rough day and it feels hard to see the good, list the basics: the health we have, the folks who love us, the food weve eaten — whatever weve got. It is difficult to be angry, frustrated or depressed when we are feeling grateful. And remember, we get more of what we focus on.
Professor Robert Emmons (University of California, Davis) expert on the science of gratitude, conducted seminal studies of such gratitude journals and recommends these pointers, proven to enhance the experience and benefits:
1. Take your time and make the conscious decision to become more grateful and happier. Motivation to become happier plays a role in the efficacy of journaling, says Emmons
2. Elaborate over the details of what you are thankful for and your response to it
3. Focusing on the people on your list has more of an impact than focusing on things
4. Unexpected or surprising events tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
5. See each item that you list as a gift. The instruction given in his studies is: Be aware of your feelings and how you relish and savour this gift in your imagination. Take the time to be especially aware of the depth of your gratitude.
Some other simple ways for cultivating appreciation include:
* Say thank you out loud. Take time to physically thank the people who help and enhance your life. Express appreciation to your staff and colleagues. Share your admiration for someones skills or talents. Write a letter to someone who changed your life. Acknowledge acts of random kindness; someone giving way to you on the road, or the kind lady who let me and my milk go before her big shopping cart
People like to be appreciated, it promotes feelings of interconnectedness and increases the likelihood they will do more helpful things spreading the positivity.
* Try a few minutes of morning contemplation on what you are grateful for and start your day with those positive feelings. If nothing else, that annoying alarm clock signifies that at least youve lived to see another day!
* Start to notice all the things that give you a feel good factor throughout your day and make a mental note of them to include in your gratitude journal
* Find a quote, a saying, a poem, a picture etc thats a reminder and inspires you to take the time to practice gratitude. This short video works for me: www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj2ofrX7jAk
If it can bring us peace and happiness, a sense of abundance and balance surely it is worth a try. See what is can do for you.
Thank you for reading.
Julia Pitt is a trained Success Coach and certified NLP practitioner. For further information contact Julia on (441) 705-7488, www.juliapittcoaching.com.
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