"Thank God, it's Friday! Thank you for my job. Thank you for my health! Thank you to the Universe for life!" I am paraphrasing. During the pandemic, I am working at home. I communicate with my co-workers and management through chat. Every morning, we announce our presence by posting, "Good morning!" One guy posted the above comments expressing his appreciation for life. He finished off by saying, "Don't mind me. I am glad to be here. I had a rough day yesterday." I don't know what happened or what he is dealing with but he chose to show gratitude instead of complaining about his experiences. When I went on break I heard the most fitting song sung by Smokie Norful called "Dear God". In the chorus the lyrics say "Lord, thank you for my life!"
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Its purpose is to bring awareness to how we all are impacted by our mental health and how we can do things to increase our resilience in situations that we deal with. It is not only about mental illness.
Practicing daily gratitude is a significant tool that is useful in promoting healthy and thriving mental health. Mental Health America provides Tools 2 Thrive (www.mhanational.org).
Practicing gratitude is a way of showing appreciation, as said before, for the experiences in your life. Gratitude is an expression of how we respond to what is happening outside of us. The way we respond to what is outside of us and what is happening to us can either empower us or it can disempower us. It is a choice that we can make in how we respond. While some events and experiences are out of our control, it is in our control of how we respond to it and how we perceive it. Also if you live a life of gratitude, more blessings will be attracted to you. The more gratitude that you show, the more you will receive to be grateful for.
The Benefits of Gratitude
The attitude of gratitude has many benefits for overall wellbeing. All the benefits originate from your way of thinking. It all comes from the mind.
Increases your well-being and your sense of happiness
There is a concept in positive psychology called negativity bias where it explains your brain's attraction or fixation on bad things. Our brains emphasize more on what's wrong and what's bad. It's to say that bad is stronger than good. For example, you may do so many good things for another person in a relationship, but as soon as you do something bad or there is something that you didn't do opposed to what you have done, all the good is suddenly forgotten. In the book, The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effects Rules Us and How We Can Rule It, written by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney, they explain the "Negative Golden Rule". The "Negative Golden Rule" refers to how we concentrate on taking away the negative instead of concentrating on and appreciating the positive. Unfortunately, negative things matter more than positive things. So if we can be aware of this concept, then we can work on focusing and cultivating on good things. Research reveals that bad things have about 4 times as much impact as good things. Research also shows that gratitude promotes happiness, life satisfaction, feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure, and many positive emotions (Suttie, 2020).
Showing gratitude reduces anxiety and depression. Gratitude is looking on the bright side of things in your life so that you don't focus on disappointments, failure, or unmet expectations (Olpin & Hesson, 2010). Gratitude is an opportunity to change your attitude in how you think and speak about a situation. It promotes growth rather than complaining and whining.
Provides greater control of your inner self
The sense of control comes from the choices you make and your response to what is happening outside and around your self. Knowing that you can choose to think in a way of appreciation or you can think in a way of non-appreciation or complaining (negative) gives you control. It also puts the responsibility on you because it's all in the way you are choosing to think and respond.
Improves your mood
You feel good. You feel happy. When you list the several things to be grateful for, you feel lucky and/or blessed because you know there are many people who are worse off than you. When you can operate in a positive frame of mind, you can find solutions, opportunities, possibilities, therefore, giving you hope to keep going and realizing that things aren't as bad as you could choose to see things.
Gratitude is a form of worship to God
You are acknowledging God through gratitude. God has blessed you and you recognize that God loves you. You show honor God of how He has truly shown you favor to you and your life. Gratitude is celebrating the goodness that is within your life rather than thinking about what is missing. You realize that life is a beautiful journey and we begin to see life as God sees it.
Psalms 69:30 NIV "I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving."
Call to Action: Be intentional about being thankful. Work on developing an attitude of gratitude.
- Create a Gratitude Journal where you list 3-5 things every day about what you are grateful for. You can do 3-5 things or you can write in the journal 3 times a day.
- Write a thank-you note to a person who has been particularly good to you. It would be a wonderful surprise and a glorious gift for that person. It would certainly make them feel good about being good to you.
- Daniel Pink is an American author who has written many bestseller books about business, work, creativity and behavior. He shared a principle of mental subtraction where you think about what your life might be like if you never met that person (you could even think of your beloved fur baby). You feel a bit of their absence, making you appreciate their presence in your life. The best thing about this exercise or principle is that you develop a sense of gratefulness or appreciation without actually losing them. They say you don't realize a good thing until it is taken away or it is gone.
There are many other benefits of gratitude and there are many other exercises that can be done that can promote positive emotions that come from gratitude. During this time during COVID-19 pandemic, it is an important time to practice gratitude in order to cope with the uncertain future, the isolation and missing loved ones and our friends, and the fear of this dangerous virus taking over our world. Take this time to focus on positive things, opportunities, developing a growth mindset so that we come out of this better than when we first began. We can prepare and equip ourselves for the changes that are ahead of us.
I enjoyed writing this post and I am truly thankful for the opportunity to share with you. God bless you!
"Gratitude is the connection between who and what you are and the full magnificence of life." Ivanla Vanzant in One Day My Soul Just Opened Up (1998).
References Olpin, M. & Hesson, M. (2010). Stress Management for Life: A Research-Based Experiential Approach. 2nd ed. Wadsworth, p. 84. Suttie, J. (2020). How to overcome your brain's fixation on bad things. Greater Good Magazine.
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