What I want is what I’ve not got, But what I need is all around me.
-“Jimi Thing,” Dave Matthews Band
Has there ever been a more competitive time? We compete against ourselves, siblings, neighbors, classmates, people in other states and countries. Instead of being a nation of strivers reaching for that next goal, we might be a lot happier if we just took a time out and appreciated what we have. How grateful are you for all those in your lives who helped you become the person you are and helped you obtain the achievements you reached?
Gratitude can be feeling satisfied and appreciative of what you have. It’s good to remind ourselves to be grateful but embracing gratitude as a feeling and as a way of looking at things is very different, according to an article in Lifehacker. It’s a powerful and easy to use tool, once you get the hang of it.
You could have a regular gratitude session where you sit down and create a list of things and people you’re grateful for. You could also create a gratitude journal or “how far I’ve come” journal where you write about your challenges and how they were overcome.
Being present in the moment is key to feeling grateful because you take the time to tune into your life and be more aware. If you start embracing gratitude, your relationships can be better, you may feel more in control, and it may help get you through tough times.
Gratitude is easy when things are going well, but we may start to feel invulnerable. On the other hand, it’s hard to see the upside when things start going sour, and your world is turning upside down. One way to appreciate where you are is to give it some context:
- Think about one of the unhappiest events in your life.
- How often do you think about it?
- Does the difference with the present make you feel grateful and pleased?
- Do you understand your current situation is not as bad as it could be?
- Try to realize and appreciate just how much improved your life is now.
- Don’t ignore a painful past but develop a frame of reference for the present to enjoy experiences and events.
Being grateful isn’t just a feel good, self-help platitude. Its effects have been objectively studied and the benefits documented:
- A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that those keeping a gratitude journal were more likely to feel happy. One group wrote about their events during the day; another was asked to write why their lives were better than most (primarily a gratitude journal). The second group reported more satisfaction with their lives, were more optimistic and felt more connected to
- A study in the Journal of Social Psychology found that positive emotions, including gratitude, helped people cope after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. The study found positive emotions after crises insulate resilient people against depression and fuel their thriving. Gratitude can act as a buffer helping you to cope, though it can’t repair the aftermath of a tragedy.
- University of Georgia researchers interviewed couples about how happy their marriage was. They found expressing gratitude to one another was a consistent predictor of happiness. Couples who are more likely to show appreciation for each other were more likely to make it through obstacles that could break apart other relationships.
If things aren’t going as planned for you, some gratitude for what you have may be the change in emotional scenery you need to get back on track. A client may also be suffering and a reminder how the person got through previous crises and can help provide more confidence when tackling the issue before them.