I was not a firm believer in gratitude and most of my life I never really bothered to explore the topic of being grateful for what I have.
But as with all things in life, every learning point comes to you when you are most receptive towards it and when you are most likely to absorb the lesson behind the story.
I hope that after you are finished reading this article, you too will begin to appreciate gratitude and start feeling more grateful for the things you have in your life.
What is the importance of gratitude in the first place?
Robert Emmons, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology, in his book “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier“ writes that scientifically speaking (because the information in this book is based on research involving thousands of people) regular grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25 percent, while keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks results in better sleep and more energy.
There is also an increase in creativity as well as having a stronger immune system.
He also makes an important distinction in the book, by saying that by feeling grateful we are not lying to ourselves that everything is great. We are simply becoming aware of our many blessings that we already have but were ignoring up to that time.
What are most common obstacles for being grateful?
Comparing myself with others
This is by far the most common obstacle. If you are busy always comparing yourself with others, chances are you will not focus on giving yourself appreciation for the things and values that you already have. You will probably just take them for granted or minimize their value.
You can also start disapproving of yourself, or even being angry for not living up to the standards you deemed were important and necessary.
You need to remember we are all different and we are all special.
Each of us has strengths and weaknesses, and comparing yourself to someone else is really not needed.
There will be people who have skills or are able to do things better then you, but you can also learn to develop that skills. Or you don’t need to develop them at all because you have different skills to use instead.
In any case, allow everyone to be special and the comparison becomes unnecessary.
I suggest that you read my blog post with techniques to build self-confidence.
Desire for more things and possessions
When we get stuck into wanting more and more things, we don’t have that much time to enjoy in the things that we already have.
There is always the next shiny toy. Realize that happiness doesn’t lie in things, but in experiences.
Let go of the desire for possession.
Did you notice that the mind won’t let us be grateful?
“Often people ask how I manage to be happy, despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude.” ~ Nick Vujicic
Nick Vujcic is one of my favorite examples of the power of gratitude, he is an Australian Christian evangelist and motivational speaker born with Phocomelia, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs.
As a child, he struggled mentally and emotionally as well as physically, but eventually came to terms with his disability and, at the age of seventeen, started his own non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs.
Vujicic presents motivational speeches worldwide which focus on life with a disability, hope and finding meaning in life.
Here is a Youtube video of Nick on Oprah’s Lifeclass!
If Nick can find a way to be grateful, and not only that, to lead a worldwide motivational company, I am sure you can find something too.
Also, stop complaining. It is a habit that will for sure rob you of your happiness.
You can read my blog post about different ways to stop complaining and being happy.
Did you discover the underlying intention of the Universe?
Recognize the underlying intention of the Universe to always give you the experiences and things you need and are the best for you in your current time and space. Check the truth of this from your own life experience.
Sometimes what we want and what we need are completely different things.
There were a lot of times when I really wanted a specific situation of an experience, and I got disappointed when I didn’t get it.
It took 4-5 years to realize that not getting the thing I wanted was actually the best thing that could have happened to me for that time and place of my life.
Where does my happiness come from?
My happiness comes from the inside. It is not the fulfillment of the desire, but the lack of the desire that makes me happy.
If I can be happy with myself, and without any specific thing or experience in the world, I would always be happy.
If you want to learn more about this, I suggest you read my post on Why Do I Seek Approval – And How Do I Stop It?
Write a gratitude journal
Set aside a time of day to write into your gratitude journal. You can buy a little notebook, or you can even install a free smartphone application that will help you (with daily popup reminders) to choose at least one thing that you were grateful that happened to you that day.
Remember you will die. This is not intended to bum you down. It’s intended in fact to remind you to start living your life from the side that you choose, instead of buying into everyone else’s story.
And if you are worrying about death or dying, please read my blog post called How Can I Stop Worrying About Everything.
Final thoughts about where to go next
“Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.” ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin.
Discover five things that you are grateful for in your life right now, in this moment, and write them in the comments section below.
Deepen your path into gratitude and self-acceptance – visit my reviews and recommendation page.
Remember: your life will change for the better when you start to be grateful for what you already have.
Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net