The Power of Gratitude
If you ask those close to me to name my favorite holiday, they will easily tell you “Christmas.” Very little on this earth makes me happier than channeling my inner Clark Griswold. But my favorite holiday tradition? That comes about a month earlier at Thanksgiving in the dining room with my closest friends and family. Maybe it’s the amount of wine I have on that day, but I always get a little teary-eyed when we go around, one by one, and share what we are most thankful for over the past year. Every year has its hardships. We have lost close family. But there is something so beautiful about reflecting on what we do have.
This is the Power Series for My Amelia James, where women are empowered to live a life by design! Today we examine the power of gratitude.
In the last post, The Power of Positivity, I talked about how a positive attitude enhances creativity and can illuminate paths towards success. If positivity is WHAT is important, gratitude is HOW to achieve it.
- What gratitude is NOT:
Gratitude is NOT simply having abundance. Charles Dickens famously demonstrates through Ebenezer Scrooge that wealth beyond imagination can still result in misery. Scrooge worked hard and saved. But the more he acquired, the colder he became.
This does not mean abundance prevents gratitude.
- What gratitude IS:
Gratitude IS recognizing and appreciating what you have. Warren Buffett has said, “If you’re in the luckiest 1 percent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 percent.” And he has literally put his money where his mouth is, donating billions of dollars to charity and pledging billions more.
- What gratitude is NOT:
Gratitude is NOT the feeling you get when you get something you feel entitled to. If you think you are owed something, you will not experience gratitude!
- What gratitude IS:
Gratitude IS recognizing that what you have may be the result of the generosity of others and/or fortunate circumstances. If you are reading this on your computer or smart phone, you are one of the world’s most financially privileged. I don’t say this to bring about guilt. Guilt is a gratitude killer. But I say this to encourage an attitude of gratitude!
When you are truly grateful, you will be incredibly positive! I’ve already talked about how positivity will benefit you at a personal level. But it will also benefit those around you. Generosity flows from positivity and gratitude. Who better to illustrate what a blessing you can be to others when you are truly grateful for what you have than Mother Teresa?
“One night, a man came to our house to tell me that a Hindu family, a family of eight children, had not eaten anything for days.
They had nothing to eat.
I took enough rice for a meal and went to their house. I could see the hungry faces, the children with their bulging eyes. The sight could not have been more dramatic!
The mother took the rice from my hands, divided it in half and went out.
When she came back a little later, I asked her: ‘Where did you go? What did you do?’
She answered, ‘They also are hungry.’
‘They’ were the people next door, a Muslim family with the same number of children to feed and who did not have any food either.
That mother was aware of the situation.
She had the courage and the love to share her meager portion of rice with others. In spite of here circumstances, I think she felt very happy to share with her neighbors the little I had taken her.
In order not to take away her happiness, I did not take her anymore rice that night. I took her some more the following day.”
(From “Mother Teresa: In My Own Words,” compiled by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado, 1996)
Mother Teresa did not have much but she was aware that what she did have was a gift she could pay forward. The mother of the Hindu family did the same. She did not hoard the rice provided by Mother Teresa. Instead, she recognized the gift was better paid forward.
Call to Action:
We can train our brain to be more grateful. It is very simple. Here’s how.
Get a notebook and call it your “Gratitude Journal” (“Gratitude Log” if you don’t like “Journal”). At the end of each day, write three things for which you are grateful. Do this for at least three weeks.
There is one catch though. You cannot repeat an item in your journal. If you write that you are grateful for your spouse on Monday, you cannot write it again on Tuesday. Over time, you will train your brain to pay attention to what is going well for you throughout the day.
This is a great activity to do with a spouse. Keep your His & Hers Gratitude Journals on your nightstands and talk through them before turning the lights out.
Practice gratitude with fellow reps. My Amelia James is a community of love and support full of people wanting to lift each other up.
Do this activity with your children. How cool would it be for them to share what they are grateful for every night at the dinner table?
If you invite others to be grateful with you it will be like Thanksgiving every day!
About Dr. Dan
Dr. Dan is a licensed psychologist, your biggest cheerleader, and the go-to positivity force behind My Amelia James. For more information, visit DrPallesen.com