Rising with an attitude of gratitude is the best way to face the day.
An attitude of gratitude means making it a habit to express thankfulness and appreciation for all the good things, big and small, in one’s life. If one focuses on what one has, satisfaction ensues. If one focuses on what one doesn’t have, dissatisfaction quickly follows.
The other, day my colleague and I were speaking of the beauty of the dogs’ attitude towards life and their owners. We both spoke of our own four-legged friends, who always greet us and our families with excitement upon our return home, and how they treasure every moment spent in our presence. Dogs live in the moment and have an endless spirit of joy, loyalty, warmth, and gratitude. They are grateful when you pet them, feed them, walk them, loll around with them, – they’re nothing but gratitude. No wonder they’re called man’s best friend. We could learn a lot from them about how to live and be content. During our conversation, we decided that we’d all be much happier if only we could be a bit more like dogs. I don’t recommend taking a leak on the fire hydrant, but I do recommend recognizing the beauty of every moment we have with our loved ones.
Consider, dogs greet the morning with excitement expressed with their tail shaking and attempts to play and snuggle – their favorite way to start the day. They then do their stretching, which I like to call DOGA. A little yoga, to start the day, would be great for us too!
And then they eat. Sometimes a little too fast, but they’re always grateful for whatever you serve. There’s no complaints. Again, very much in the moment and thrilled to be alive and in your presence. If your dog is anything like mine they’ll want to sit on your lap after eating to thank you. It’s their own way of telling you that they love you. Now, if we could thank the person who cooked and served the food for us, can you imagine how good they’d feel?
Human beings have the capacity to express themselves through writing, and a great exercise is to journal to help remind us of all the things for which we should be grateful. For example, good health (the greatest wealth), a loving family, good friends, gainful employment – so many of us take these all for granted.
We must cultivate an attitude of gratitude towards ourselves. Let’s acknowledge our progress. Forget about perfection- aim for progress. They may be baby steps, but if you’re headed in the right direction, you’re getting somewhere. So, take stock of the things you are doing to accomplish your goals with self-appreciation.
And last, but not least, we need to recognize others who inspire, help, and support us as we travel along. Good friends and family make all the difference in our lives, and we should make sure they know it.
We have arrived at the time of year that is all about gratitude. Thanksgiving should remind us of the gifts we have in our lives and we should express our gratitude for those things. While surrounded by your loved ones, this Thanksgiving, be reminded of the bountiful gifts of family and friendship that provide support and love throughout our lives.
The spirit of Thanksgiving would be best cultivated and sustained throughout the year. Can you really have too much of the feelings of joy, gratitude, and health? When more positive feelings live within you, there is less room for the negative. Recent studies show that feeling and expressing gratitude leads to better physical health too. Paul Mills, a Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, conducted studies that looked at the role of gratitude on heart health.
Among other things, he found that participants who kept a journal most days of the week, writing about 2-3 things they were grateful for (everything from appreciating their husbands or wives to the good food they cooked), had reduced levels of inflammation and improved heart rhythm compared to those who did not. And the journal-keepers also showed a decreased risk of heart disease after only 2 months of this new routine!
So, let’s cultivate and spread gratitude. There’s no down side to it. It lifts your energy and it is infectious to others. Let’s face it: that’s the kind of infection we want to spread.