I once heard Werner Earhard, the founder of est, say that, if one were ever to come face to face with God and to report back on the experience, one might say, “Well, she’s radiant, and there is nothing she doesn’t know, and she can do anything – – but she’s a little bossy.” The point being, you can always find something to complain about. And you can focus on that, or you can focus on the good. There will always be both.
This week in our group, we talked about gratitude and its benefits. People who have an “attitude of gratitude” seem to live longer, have better health, and of course, they enjoy their lives more. Negative emotions flood the body with stress hormones, which over time take their toll on all of our organs. Gratitude floods the body with endorphins and neuropeptides like oxytocin and other “feel good” hormones, reduces stress, and is therefore good for health and longevity.
Anyone can be grateful when things are going well. The harder part is learning to be grateful when things are not so good. In the midst of any difficulty, one can always find something to feel grateful for if we look for it, even if its just a breeze on our cheek, the sound of music or the sight of a bird in flight.
Worry is about the future. Gratitude brings you back to the present moment.
In James Baraz’s course in “Awakening Joy,” he gives some suggestions for developing the gratitude muscle:
- LOOK FOR AND APPRECIATE THE GOOD STUFF – KEEP YOUR RADAR OUT FOR LOOKING FOR THE GOOD
- APPRECIATE OTHERS, ESPECIALLY IN THE WORKPLACE AND AT HOME
- APPRECIATE YOURSELF – YOU BECOME LESS DEPENDENT UPON PRAISE FROM OTHERS
- YOU CAN EVEN HAVE GRATITUDE IN THE MIDST OF A DIFFICULTY. ASK YOURSELF: WHAT CAN APPRECIATE IN THIS SITUATION WHAT LESSONS CAN I LEARN?
Gratitude towards ourselves is often the hardest. Instead of going over our mental “to-do” lists and seeing where we are falling short, try taking some time at night before you go to sleep to look at the day counting what you DID accomplish, or what kindness you might have shown. Let yourself feel good about the things you did right, instead of only toting up the things you did wrong or fell short on.
Take time to appreciate your sense organs – eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin – as well as your lungs, heart, digestive system, endocrine system – – in short – the miracle of the body, heart and mind, and life.
And I promised to post this:
The Top Ten Ways to Become More Grateful
Adapted from Attitudes of Gratitude by M.J. Ryan
1. Focus on what’s right in your life instead of what’s wrong.
2. Take a moment to say one thing you are thankful for at dinner.
3. Say “thank you” to others as often as possible.
4. Especially when they’re annoying or frustrating you, remember why you love your
spouse, kids, and friends.
5. Don’t compare your life to others. When envy arises, ask yourself: how can I create more
in me of what I see in them?
6. Give thanks for your body. What can you appreciate about it right now?
7. When difficult things happen, ask yourself: What’s right about this? Yes, it’s awful, but if
something were right about it, what would it be?
8. Look for the hidden blessings in challenges. How have you grown?
9. Imagine that this day is the first and last of your life. How would you tryou treasure it?
10 Practice daily—a written journal, email to a gratitude partner, etc.