Today we talk about something so simple but so powerful…gratitude. It is often used to describe Thanksgiving and other holidays. But, This practice can be beneficial at any time of year.
Gratitude is the quality of being grateful.
One definition of thankfulness is to be happy and relieved. Wow! This is a state of mind that I would love for all of the time to be in, to be relieved.
Include the Powerful Practice of Being Grateful
It can be powerful to simply notice and acknowledge the goodness in your life. I don’t mean being grateful for big-ticket items or money. I am talking about gratitude for the little things that sustain us.
I was able to see this man cross the street. He was in a wheelchair. He was not in an electric wheelchair. He was pushing and pulling to cross the street, using every muscle in his arms and legs to propel himself to the other side. Cars were driving around him since he was taking longer than the timing of the light to complete his crossing. I watched him slowly cross the other side and continue his journey. I felt three feelings simultaneously:
- Part of me felt terrible for not helping him cross the street and leaving my car.
- I was part of me was amazed at his strength to cross a street.
- Another part of me thought he didn’t need my help because this is how his day goes.
What are some things that you take for granted?
This experience taught me to take the simple things I take as a given. Moving legs. Strength in my body. Breath in my lungs. The ability to cross a street with no thought and without using all of my body’s power to do so. These little things make my life so much simpler than his. These abilities and body parts are what propel me forward.
It makes me wonder what he would be grateful for. Perhaps he doesn’t see what I see as a struggle or burden. Maybe he views the wheelchair that allows him to move more easily as something he is grateful for. Perhaps he is grateful for his ability to use his arms and for the person who helped him see. We don’t know the struggles or triumphs of another person, but we do know our victories and losses.
This is what I mean by gratitude. Sometimes, we have it so much more easy than the people around. This is not something to boast about, but to be grateful for. Even when you’re having a rough day or are struggling to get through the big stuff, slow down and find gratitude for the little things. Even small things can be huge for us, but they could also be important to someone else. Even when everything seems to be falling apart, there are still things we can be thankful for.
Count the Gifts in Your Life
Once, I heard that the things we have are what other people pray for. Sometimes the things in our lives are gifts we forget we were given. Sometimes things are more valuable than we realize if we see them from a different angle. This is called appreciation.
I encourage you to be more grateful today. To be grateful for the good things in your life, write a gratitude list at either the beginning or the end of each day. This simple practice can help us to see the good in life. There is always something that goes well or works. Sometimes your list may be longer than others. This is okay. I truly believe that if we shift our focus to what we have, our mindset can improve. Your optimism can grow. It is possible to see that things are more positive than we imagined.
You can take this practice one step further by looking back at your gratitude list from last week or a day ago. Take a look at what you are grateful for and reflect on how things have improved. You might find something that makes a difficult day less stressful if you look back. You might even find exactly what you need to get through this difficult moment.
So I leave you with this thought…. “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault
Today, notice what is going right and what is working. Be grateful for it.
It might be a good idea to seek counsel if you are having difficulty finding things in life to be grateful for.
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