The Attitude of Gratitude

by Amanda Flores, AMFT, #111774

Thanksgiving is next week and we can take our memories back to elementary school when we used to make little crafts of what we were thankful for. As little kids, we were practicing gratitude. But what about now.. As an adult? How are you cultivating gratitude?

Let’s step out of our daily hustle and bustle role for a bit and imagine ourselves as a little helicopter watching ourselves…
You wake up (pause).. Are you thankful for your bed? Pillow? Pajamas? Pet/partner/children/family to wake up to? Are you thankful for running water for brushing your teeth/showering? A job to wake up for? Clothes to change into? Food to make for breakfast?

Do you see how there are sooooo many things in our daily lives that we can be practicing gratitude? And that was just the morning!

Research consistently shows that gratitude increases happiness and quality of life and relationships. Gratitude can channel our inner peace and improve our mental health which then directly improves and strengthens our relationships. We can express gratitude to others or we can just mindfully practice it for ourselves. Either way, when we practice gratitude we are cultivating positivity in our lives.

Now, of course we can be thankful for receiving a pay increase or a job promotion but what about the things we might not recognize as such a big deal.. such as having tastebuds or the existence of donuts! Big or small, tangible or intangible, gratitude can be practiced if we can take moments to recognize things to be thankful for.

Below are a few ways to cultivate gratitude.

Think about a very positive experience in your life… job promotion, having a great group of friends, purchasing a home, having children, going on vacation…. Do you notice how you feel happy and thankful? Now think about what your life would be like without that positive thing you thought about. Reflect on that. Treat yourself to a moment of giving thanks through prayer, journaling, or just sitting with yourself in this moment.

Make a gratitude jar or journal for your gratitude.

Write out some thank you notes to express gratitude or leave a sticky note on the refrigerator or loved one’s steering wheel for someone to see.

The more gratitude YOU choose to practice, the happier YOU will feel and can possibly make others feel! Remember, you are not practicing this for anyone else so try not to get discouraged if others are not returning acts of gratitude. Chances are others need some reminders to practice gratitude themselves to participate in such acts. But also remember this… your act of gratitude WILL affect others whether they respond or not. So keep on spreading the attitude of gratitude!

Carol Rose Adkisson M.A. LMFT MFC #83484
The Trauma and Healing Foundation

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