GRATITUDE IS A CHOICE

GRATITUDE IS A CHOICE

Gratitude is a choice, but why would you choose it?

In recent years there have been systematic scientific studies of gratitude and its positive effects.  These studies show that grateful people are happier, more open and sociable, less depressed and neurotic and express higher levels of satisfaction with their lives and relationships.

Grateful people also show higher levels of growth and self-acceptance and stronger coping skills for challenges and set-backs.

The ones who carry on with master motivation speaker Zig Ziglar’s “attitude of gratitude” mindset share a greater willingness to seek out help from others.  They spend more time planning how to address issues.  They demonstrate the ability to interpret challenging events in ways that help them grow.

gratitude-road
“Gratitude Road” by Bart Maguire via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Here’s the voice of the late Zig Ziglar at his best in a YouTube video published by Thinking Humanity.  His anecdote about an unhappy, vitriolic woman who hated her job and what happened to her when she chose gratitude is eye-opening.

“You can’t change other people,” Ziglar points out.  “You can only change yourself.

WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?

Here’s another interesting take on gratitude.  This “Experiment In Gratitude” You-Tube video was put together by SoulPancake  for their “The Science of Happiness” project.  It was created by Mike Bernstein and Matt Pittman.

The biggest takeaway from this thing is the thought that the person who was least happy that day experienced the greatest rise in felt happiness.  That’s a powerful thing.

SoulPancake is a digital media and production company that “creates content that explores life’s big questions, celebrates humanity, and champions creativity with integrity heart and humor,” it says on their Facebook company overview.

Named one of FastCompany’s Top 10 Most Innovative Video Companies of 2015, they target the “Optimistic Millenial.”  Their work has something for all of us, I am thinking.  Among their series of more than thirty assorted video formats are sprightly-named things like “Kid President,” “What She Said,” “Highly Evolved Human,” and “Metaphysical Milkshake.”

They’ve even put out a book, SOULPANCAKE:  Chew on Life’s Big Questions, by Rainn Wilson, Devon Gundry, Golriz Lucina and Shabnam Mogharabi.

GRATITUDE GROWS HAPPY

Taking stock of the many people, experiences and things that are good, right and working well in our lives is uplifting.   Apparently, elevating your awareness of what’s right with the world rather than focusing on what’s wrong, you come to realize that happiness really is already right there, all around you.

An attitude of gratitude also has an uncanny way of attracting more good to you.  What we focus on grows, and focusing on simple pleasures – on the good we are experiencing here, now, today – can work wonders.

Dave Ramsey has been called “America’s trusted voice on money” and is a bestselling author and radio host.   Among his numerous bestselling books is THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER:  A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness.

In this YouTube video, “Contentment and Gratitude,” Ramsey is doing one of his annual Thanksgiving radio broadcasts.  He lays out the arguments for carrying an attitude of gratitude around with you.  As he points out in the video, helping grateful people makes other people happy and they tend to go out of their way to help some more.

WHAT YOU FOCUS ON GROWS

What you focus on grows.  You can consciously focus on what you’re thankful for rather than on what frustrates you.  If you maintain positive thoughts and grow a positive mental attitude, if you consistently engage in positive action, then eventually it becomes easier and easier to be a positive person.

Life milestones are great.  Hammering your latest goal, receiving some coveted prize, getting rewarded for the hard work you’ve put in, getting that house or car or latest electronic wonder you’ve been drooling over…all of these things are worth celebrating.

However, celebrating these life milestones is not a substitute for a foundation of gratitude that leads us to more consistent happiness.

EXERCISES FOR YOU TO TRY

  1. MAKE A LIST. Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Yet another list.  Every day (either in the morning when you first get up or in the evening before going to bed), write down three things for which you are grateful.  Just three.  Every day.

I’ve done it both ways.  If you do it in the morning, your day starts out suddenly brighter and more shiny.  If you do it just before going to sleep, then sleep comes easier and when you wake up the list is right there waiting to remind you of the good things in your life.  A bonus, two-for-the-price-of-one move.

  1. PUMP OUT THE JUICE. Take the time to express something beyond a generic thank-you.  Personalize your authentic gratitude.  Share your appreciation for somebody’s unique qualities and their specific impact on your life.

Mix up your heart in it.  What comes from the heart will hit another heart.  Do that.  (It’s a good thing.)

  1. CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING 365. On his Thanksgiving radio shows, Dave Ramsey asks his callers to share one thing for which they are grateful before they can ask their questions or address their concerns.  This “tradition” might be a good thing to try your own self.

Before every evening meal, at the end of the day, whether you are alone or with someone, think on some things for which you’re grateful.  If you’re with other people, share your best good thing and get them to share theirs as well.  Ask, “What’s one good thing that happened today?  What are you grateful for?”

Make it a ritual.  It will go a long way to help diffuse the stresses of the day and to reconnect to each other as well as help prepare your bodies to enjoy the food before you.  (After all, as some guy in yet another lab coat will probably tell you, bodies that are relaxed digest food better.)

Here’s a poem:


BLESSINGS

Hanging ten on the edge of dissolution,

Staring into the maw of the Creative Dark, po panopano.

Sitting here almost brain-dead and drained,

I got to thinking how the other people in my life

Have shaped me, helped me shape my world.

 

It is a good thought,

Makes me want to throw my fist up in the air,

A warrior’s salute and celebration.

Makes me want to dance on the edge again.

Gives me heart.

 

I bless them all, those people….

 

I bless the loving people in my life

The ones who helped smooth my way,

The warm and generous ones,

The ones who were kind.

 

I bless the strong people in my life,

The ones who kept their promises,

The ones who let me lean on their strength,

The self-sufficient ones, the peaceable ones.

 

I bless the good people in my life,

Most wondrous of all the gifts

From this old Universe.

On the edge of the void,

They make me smile.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Thank You All” by Don McCullough via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0], a 2015 farewell picture and thank-you to all of his Flickr fans.

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.

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18 thoughts on “GRATITUDE IS A CHOICE

  1. Brandon Cox says:

    Zig Ziglar is one of my heroes, and gratitude is, as you so eloquently describe, as essential to life as air and water. Gratitude grows our souls deeper. I believe that there is, indeed, a direct connection between expressing thoughts and words of gratitude and improving the literal, physical health of our brains and therefore, of our souls and emotional well-being. So… thank you!

    1. Hey Brandon: Thanks for your visit and your comments. I do appreciate them. Please do come again….

  2. Hi Netta!

    It’s actually true that the only person we can help is ourselves. In the end, each one of us decide how they want their lifes to be, nobody else. So if we don’t like how things go, we are the ones with the power to change them.

    And the more grateful you are for what you already have, the more happy you’ll be, and it becomes a reoutine to see the bright side of life, and that’s really the secret.

    Thanks for you insight on this! 😉

    1. Hey Israel: Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I do appreciate it. Please do come again.

  3. I really like the title of your website. Very good! The top picture on the home page is very good, too. Gratitude Road picture is great. Makes me want to live there! I am sure you are aware the video is not available. Zig Ziglar is a great speaker and your audience will appreciate listening to his wisdom. “The Experiment in Gratitude” video is very special. Pass the Kleenex, please. Wow! Awesome! Good review of the company as well.
    The Dave Ramsey is good, too. Near the end, he is talking in a more genuine way, not judgmental. Glad for the Exercises. Thank you for the poem “Blessings”, it is very touching. Like the acknowledgments at the bottom of the page as well. Clever use of next, previous arrows for your other poems. Also enjoyed the poem “Making Room for the Creative”. Going back to home I found different pictures and content. It is very professional and the pictures are very well matched with the content.
    You have made a great website that I believe people will want to follow and return to over and over again.

    1. Hey Dee:  Thanks for your visit and for your comments.  Thanks, as well, for the heads-up that the Zig Ziglar YouTube video I used previously is no longer available.  I’ve replaced it with another one with the same message.  I do appreciate your help and your feedback.  Please do come again….

  4. I love that I found this post and that I encountered your site. I have created a space in my life where I take the attitude that everything is always working out for me and I look for things to appreciate. It is a very good and relaxed vibe. I have kept a gratitude journal and the shift in energy in my life has been incredible. When you speak of what you focus on grows it really resonated with me as I have witnessed the experience of both powerful focus both unwanted and wanted in my experience. I am inspired and feel hopeful having encountered your content. Dare I say it, very grateful to see these kinds of discussions taking place. The poem, Blessings, is beautiful. Thank you for such an uplifting post .

    1. Thanks for your visit, Bex, and for sharing your thoughts. I’m so glad that a bunch of it resonated with you.

      (I am always uplifted, my own self, when my visitors tell me that they have been playing as I have and found that what we do works for them too. A really cool validation, that.)

      Please do come again….

  5. ​A life of gratitude truly is what we get tempted not to live. To think of situations in our lives that nails us in dire frustration can make us not to care about being grateful!

    This was very insightful.

    From now on, I want to continually walk on gratitude road for any small matter.

    “But I lost a dad?” “Oh that’s OK, I still have a mom and great friends and family around me. So I’m thankful for that”

    “I failed in some papers”, “Come now Sharon, someone got an F, that was a Big B!”

    “I have little in my account”, “Oh that’s OK, it’s still great I’m not in the streets begging. Even beggars are immensely grateful when they land a gig $1!”

    Thanks once again.

    I subscribe into the gratitude path!

    Good job!

    Cheers!

    1. Thanks for your visit, Sharon, and for your thoughts. I’m glad you’re inspired to “subscribe into the gratitude path”.

      One suggestion. Gratitude is not about saying all the junk stuff is “okay.” That’s just putting on a smiley-face mask, and, for real, it does not work. The sad doesn’t ease if you just hide it away, I’m afraid. (I know ’cause I tried that one too.)

      Please be aware that the words you use when you express gratitude are really important. Think of it as kind of like crafting a prayer. You are thanking the Creative for what you do have as well as for the good things you experienced in the past. That helps you build your faith that you will experience good stuff again, and it keeps you strong enough to keep on walking.

      Let me go through your downer things and craft a gratitude thing for it. Maybe that will make what I’m saying clearer….

      I lost my dad.” I am so grateful he was in his life for as long as he was and that we made good memories together.

      I failed in some papers.” I am grateful that I have the opportunity to learn more about what I need to know so the next time I’ll be able to do better.

      I have little in my account.” I am grateful that I have this account and can add more into it as I go along.

      See what I mean?

      Walking the gratitude path is not about ignoring or trying to disappear the sad or the bad or discounting their effects on your life. Getting hurt, being down and being in pain are very real and your pain deserves to be honored and respected by you, not hidden away and shoved down so you don’t have to look at it.

      This planet’s a learning place, I say, and sometimes it really is awfully hard to keep on doing all these stupid lessons that just keep on coming and coming and coming.

      The deal is, though, by being grateful for the lessons and trying to learn what they have to teach us, we can turn them into experiences that help us develop the tools and the inner capabilities that will help us do better going forward. Gratitude-attitude can be used to help us heal as well as to help us grow in knowledge and strength.

      But, we have to do the work of accepting all of our pain and finding the goodness underneath that we can be grateful for as we move on. That is not easy. It does work.

      Those are my thoughts anyway.

      Please do come again.

  6. Really interesting read, once again – I really am enjoying the articles you have here (it’s nice to be challenged to think as you read online!). 

    I like the way this article makes a big effort to point out that we are the only people that can change anything about ourselves – being grateful/gratitude is something we all tend to overlook for the darker, outlooks on our lives. 

    Once again – a really nice thought provoking read.

    Chris

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Chris.  Glad the things make you think!  Hee!

      Please do come again….

  7. sometimes it’s hard to be grateful for the things that you have when you are feeling down and depressed which I have gone through in the past myself but reading this post has given me hope for the future as it has given me a lot to think about and helpful tips to try out next to me I feel like I have nothing to be grateful for.

    I have bookmarked this page to keep coming back to it so that I never forget the awesome lesson you have given me.

    I now see you a debt of gratitude for helping me out 🙂

    1. Thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Matthew.  I am honored that you’ve chosen to bookmark this post.  Cool!

      Please do come again….

  8. Hey Netta,

    Gratitude is indeed a quality worth cultivating by all humans. Being grateful alone is a good medicine the the human body since discouragement leads to depression and depression brings a lot of health issues. 

    And since  grateful people are happier, more open and sociable, less depressed and even express higher levels of satisfaction with their lives and relationships, I think this alone is worth it. 

    Yes, I like that notion, I mean we can’t change what others do, if anything, we can change our own attitude towards what others do to us and even what we experience in life.

    If we are able to consciously focus on what we are thankful for rather than on what frustrates us, maintain positive thoughts and grow a positive mental attitude, then eventually it becomes easier and easier for us to become a positive person.

    Your article is worth reading a hundred times. For the sake of time, I have bookmarked it for future reference.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this value with us.

    Stephen.

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Stephen.  I do appreciate it (and, of course, I agree with everything you said since you’re agreeing with me….Hee!).  

      I’m pleased you decided it was worth bookmarking this.  Thanks.

      Please do come again….

       

  9. Emmanuel Buysse says:

    Great, inspiring post!

    Gratitude is one of the biggest things we have as a human, but we almost don’t respect it, and also, we don’t recognize it.

    Which is sad, because we are that person where it should come from.

    Anyway, I’m leading in the sad way, what I wanted to say is that your posts are keeping me motivated!

    Thanks for sharing it!

    1. I am so glad that you’re finding the posts helpful, Emmanuel.  That makes me feel great!  Thank you.

      Please do come again….

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