Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

(6 minute read)

Is there really much to be grateful for, right now?

I mean, especially with all this Covid craziness curtailing our greatest plans and wildest adventures.

But tell me, did you wake up alive today?

Be grate(r)ful! I know, cheesy, isn’t it?!

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S ! That’s definitely something to be grateful for. Yet, oftentimes, people take it for granted they will always wake up, every day.

But, one day we won’t wake up. Now, that is not me being morbid; that is a fact, unlike some of the fictional things we tell ourselves!

I do see every new day as a gift. It might not be one I wanted (especially if it involves a lot of adulting and admin), but another day is another opportunity to live well : )

If you are reading this post for yourself, you are most probably literate and have the sense of sight (or speech synthesis software), are using a technological device and have access to the internet. So, that’s already four more things to be grateful for and I am also grateful you are investing your time and energy, here and now.

But, we never know what’s around the corner, so don’t wait to be grateful for the new house, promotion, holiday, retirement or something in the distant future.

What can you be grateful for, here and now?

It doesn’t have to be big or impactful, or even material, for you to show gratitude. Things don’t have to be perfect in your life before you show gratitude.

Little things matter as much as the big things.

For example, today I am grateful that I woke up, that despite feeling tired I showed up to my exercise mat and I am also grateful I now feel more energised. I am grateful that I was able to give my kids big squeezy hugs, grateful for my wonderful, uplifting and inspiring friends (you know who you are!), that I have electricity, running water, fresh food in the fridge, that my little green lettuce babies are still growing in their veggie bed (having been rescued from ravenous squishy slugs). I am grateful to those who make this world more beautiful by expressing themselves authentically and making a positive difference.

When you stop and think what you can be grateful for, the list goes on ad infinitum.

For those who scored low on the survey, Seligman suggests the following gratitude exercise: Write down today’s score. Then, every night before bed, for the next 2 weeks, take 5 minutes to write a list of at least 5 things you are grateful for in the preceding 24 hours. At the end of the 2 weeks, take the Gratitude Survey again and compare your scores.

What is the point of gratitude?

Notice how you feel when you are grateful.

Your mind switches from ruminating over any negativity or lack in your life and focuses on what is already present and abundant. Gratitude makes you more optimistic and resilient, improves relationships and overall life satisfaction. It can even improve physical and mental health, by reducing inflammation and ameliorating stress and depression.

The more regularly we partake in gratitude, the more we reap the rewards. When we express or receive authentic gratitude (rather than it being obligatory), dopamine is released in the brain.

So, it appears gratitude is good for your health. Perhaps a “thank you” each day keeps the doctor away? : )

Thank you for reading! May you have a life bursting with things to be thankful for! : )

What are you grateful for, right now?

If you want to explore gratitude further, Seligman proposes this gratitude exercise: write a letter of thanks to someone who has made a massive, positive impact in your life and yet you have never officially thanked. Arrange a visit, but do not tell them the purpose, then read your letter aloud (keeping 6ft apart : D ), with feeling and maintaining eye contact. Wait for the person to react, then reminisce about what makes them so important to you. He offers evidence of the power of this exercise in his book, Authentic Happiness.

Seligman, M ( 2002) Authentic Happiness London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing (reprinted 2017)

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