Why You Need an Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude is like a well-formed muscle - Use it or lost it Ed J. Pinegar

5 Reasons to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

The word gratitude has its origins in Latin, meaning gifts freely given. According to Dr. Angeles Arrien, author of Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, the Latin root of the word gratitude is grata or gratia — a gift. Gratitude shares a common root with the word grace, which means a gift freely given that is unearned.

Robert Emmons, Ph.D., the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, describes gratitude in two parts. First, it’s an acknowledgement of the good things in life received. And secondly, it’s the recognition that this goodness comes from a source outside of ourselves. This can be a higher power, the natural world, or from social connections with others.

Benefits Of Gratitude

Developing a habit of gratitude is one of the best things you can do to increase your health and happiness. Gratitude is emphasized by all the great religious traditions and is an important component of many spiritual practices. We are now coming to understand what the ancients already understood about the importance of gratitude. Here are five excellent reasons to develop an attitude of gratitude that have the support of science as well.

1. Gratitude makes you happier:

If you are already reasonably happy, gratitude can make you happier. But it can also lift your mood if you struggle with depression. One way that expressing gratitude works is by creating a surge of “feel good” brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. According to gratitude expert Dr. Robert Emmons, gratitude may work by reducing underlying negative emotions such as regret, envy, frustration, and resentment. There’s evidence that the more grateful a person is, the less likely they are to experience depression.

Clinical psychologist Philip Watkins found that clinically depressed patients show significantly lower levels of gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than control groups. Psychologist Dr. Deborah Serani, author of Living with Depression, reminds us that gratitude needs to be expressed all year round. She says, “Stopping to give seasonal thanks is a wonderful thing, but what’s even better is practicing gratitude year round. In fact, studies show that consistent positive interactions, particularly ones that involve gratitude, increase happiness and decrease levels of depression.”

Gratitude can make your kids happier, too. A study led by Jeffrey Froh, co-author of Making Grateful Kids, found that materialistic teens do worse in school and are more likely to get depressed. Froh believes our materialistic value system is to blame for a lot of teenage angst. He contends that focusing on extrinsic goals like image, money, and status does not fulfill psychological needs — even if these goals are met — thereby contributing to depression.

2. Gratitude improves your relationships:

Being grateful can help you make and keep friends, and strengthen relationships of all kinds. Gratitude helps you connect and empathize with others. Expressing gratitude can enhance marriages and make the relationship more resilient. Some experts believe that gratitude is the glue that holds couples together.

Research finds that grateful people exhibit enhanced brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). These are areas of the brain linked to emotional processing, interpersonal bonding, moral judgment, and the ability to understand the mental states of others.

3. Gratitude makes you a better person — at any age:

Being grateful can make you an all-around nicer, more likable person. Those who regularly express gratitude are less materialistic and more spiritual. They are less self-centered and have better self-esteem. Grateful people are more sensitive, less likely to be envious, and less likely to be aggressive or seek revenge.

This holds true for people of all ages. When children from tots to teens are taught to be grateful, it makes them happier and better students. They act more kindly and generously to both friends and strangers alike. Gratitude enhances their sense of responsibility toward future generations which makes them better stewards of the environment.

4. Gratitude makes you healthier:

Feeling and expressing gratitude can make you healthier and it may even help you live longer. It reduces stress and increases emotional resilience. It helps you sleep better, especially if you do gratitude exercises before bed. It even boosts your immune system. Grateful people are more likely to take care of themselves — to eat healthy, exercise, and take measures to manage stress.

One study had participants keep a short, daily journal. One group wrote about things they were grateful for, while another group wrote about what went wrong that day. Besides feeling happier, those in the gratitude group reported fewer health complaintsand exercised more than the group that wrote only to vent their frustrations of the day.

5. Gratitude can give your career a boost:

Whether you are an employee, entrepreneur, or business owner, gratitude can make you more successful. Forbes, one of the world’s most popular sources of business news, has dozens of articles about the importance of gratitude in business. Being grateful can increase productivity and enhance your decision making skills. It can make you a better manager and help you understand and relate to your customers, co-workers, and clients.

How To Develop A Gratitude Habit

Some people are naturally more grateful than others, but expressing gratitude is a skill that anyone can learn to do. The first step to strengthening your gratitude muscle is to pay more attention to life and the people around you. It’s hard to be grateful for that which you do not notice! A great beginner’s exercise is to keep a gratitude journal. Buy a blank paper journal or use a gratitude app like Gratitude 365. One typical exercise is to write down five things you are grateful for before you go to bed. If you are stumped, it’s OK to start with the most obvious basics.

Once you’ve developed the habit of keeping a gratitude journal, you can get even more out of it by writing specifics — the more detailed the better. A University of Southern California study found that writing five sentences about one thing you’re grateful for is more effective than writing one sentence about five things you’re grateful for. Study participants who wrote in detail reported feeling more energetic, happy, alert, and excited than those who wrote generalities.

Let others know you appreciate them. Gratitude works even better when you share it. Develop a habit of telling one person every day what you appreciate about them or thank them for a job well done. Again, it helps to be more specific than general. Instead of saying to a friend “Thank you for being there,” tell them “I appreciate what a good listener you are. You have such wise advice and I always feel better after talking to you.” Imagine how different you would feel being on the receiving end of each of these sentiments!

Most people take the good things in their life for granted. If you aren’t sure whether you are sufficiently grateful to reap gratitude’s many benefits, you can take this gratitude quiz developed by The Greater Good Science Center based at the University of California Berkeley. It will help you know whether you are in need of a “gratitude tune-up.” If you are still having a hard time getting into the gratitude mindset, this video featuring Brother David, a highly respected Benedictine monk, should help. You’ll find more of his inspirational videos at Gratefulness.org.

You can change your life, the lives of those around you, and even the world by being grateful. It’s not hard to do and takes less time than many other healthy lifestyle habits such as meditation, exercise, or even brushing and flossing your teeth!

Today’s Blog post was written by Deane Alban and is shared from the following website: http://reset.me/story/5-reasons-to-develop-an-attitude-of-gratitude/

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Counting Our Blessings

We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count Neal A. Maxwell The Power of Counting and Speaking Your Blessings

Once upon a time, a wise man met with a king. The king challenged the man with a riddle. He said, “In my hands is a small bird. Is it alive or dead?” The wise man paused and looked down.

The wise man thought to himself, “If I say it is alive, he will close his hand and crush it. If I say it is dead, he will open his hand and let it fly away.”

The wise man turned his head up and said in a soft yet commanding voice, “It’s all in your hands.”

The same is true for us. Our lives are in our hands. It is not always easy. We face struggle, challenges, and difficulties. But we can derive blessings from them, if we are intentional. We can, to use the phrase of the late Debbie Friedman, “find the courage to make our lives a blessing.”

To make our lives a blessing, we need to make two critical choices: count our blessings and speak our blessings.

Counting our blessings

As a father of two young children, I am truly blessed. Yet, that’s easy to forget at 3:00 a.m. when one child’s loud crying wakes up the other.

One of the ways I remind myself is by following an ancient Jewish custom. In Judaism, the first thing we are supposed to do each morning is sit up and say the words,

I am grateful to you, Oh God, who has restored my soul from sleep and given me the breath of life.

No sighing. No turning our pillows over and burying our heads in them. We recognize the blessing of life. We prime ourselves to live with gratitude. We count our blessings and find happiness in them.

Saying blessings

It is not enough, however, to recognize and count our blessings. We have to say them, too. Acknowledge them. Speak them.

That’s why the ancient sages urged us to say 100 blessings a day. Something magical happens when we give expression to our feelings, when we use words to show gratitude.

About a month ago, I saw an example of this magic. I was in my office when a member of my congregation came by. He had a burning question.

“I was dining at a restaurant in New York,” he began. “A few tables away from me a man stood up and proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes, and everybody in the restaurant cheered. Then the man walked quietly over to a corner, put on a yarmulke, and said some type of blessing. His and his fiance’s eyes filled with tears. Rabbi, do you have any idea what blessing he said?”

I recited a blessing I thought it might be, and he said, “Yes, that’s it! Do you have a copy?” “Sure,” I said. “Why do you ask?”

“I am planning to propose to my girlfriend this weekend, and I want to say it with her.”

With tears in my eyes, I handed him the blessing.

How a blessing works

Blessings express our feelings. They need not be traditional ones. They simply need to come from the heart. When they do, they can change lives.

I experienced this truth near the end of my grandfather’s life. We were very close. Up until his death, I tried to talk to or visit him every day. We would usually end our conversations with my saying “Talk to you tomorrow.” We did not say, “I love you.” He was not a warm fuzzy kind of guy, and it just did not feel right.

But during the last few weeks of his life, something changed. Perhaps it was the birth of my daughter or his declining condition. Whatever the cause, our moments became more infused with meaning.

When I said, “I love you”

A month before my grandfather died, I was sitting by his bed, talking to him. As I got up to leave, I felt a twitch in my stomach. Turning to him, I said, “Grandpa, I love you.”

He didn’t say anything. Our connection, however, had changed. Thereafter, we ended each conversation with my saying, “I love you.”

Saying ‘I love you’ to our dearest ones blesses them and us. It is a way we make our lives a blessing. It is something each of us can do today, tomorrow and for the rest of our lives.

This is one more way we can speak and share our blessings. When we do, we learn the discipline of gratitude and the importance of words in our daily lives.

Everyone has an opportunity look at his or her life and decide what to focus on. Will it be the tragedy, the pain, the hardship? Or will it be a blessing? You decide.

The Blog post I am sharing today was written by Evan Moffic and is from the following website: https://goinswriter.com/count-your-blessings/

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Thankfulness vs Gratitude…

Thankfulness is measured by the number of words. Gratitude is measured by the nature of our actions. David O. McKayWe understand that the human experience is filled with emotions. Emotions are the spice that give the cake flavor.

What we don’t always understand is the power of our emotions for both good and bad.

I often see the powerful effect of emotions. As a result of those experiences, I believe that our emotions may be the single most important factor in regards to our health.

There are two things that I believe can redeem our health (all areas) more dramatically than anything else: The emotion of Gratitude and the Act of Forgiveness.

When we read in the scriptures about becoming as a small child, I think of Gratitude and Forgiveness. A small child is naturally grateful and naturally forgiving. As we grow into adulthood those tendencies often become less and less automatic. Often, the gift of gratitude and forgiving must be cultivated deliberately.

Take some time to reflect today. If all areas of your health were dependent on your ability to have gratitude and to give forgiveness, how well can you realistically expect to be? Do you feel good about where you are or do you need to do some work? (I always need to do some work but that’s okay as long as I keep working at it!)

I share today’s story because even though it does not directly address forgiving or thankfulness – underlying the story I believe is a complete foundation of thankfulness and gratitude! I hope you enjoy!:

Thanks For Taking Care of Me

— Author Unknown

Like most elementary schools, it was typical to have a parade of students in and out of the health clinic throughout the day. We dispensed ice for bumps and bruises, Band-Aids for cuts, and liberal doses of sympathy and hugs. As principal, my office was right next door to the clinic, so I often dropped in to lend a hand and help out with the hugs. I knew that for some kids, mine might be the only one they got all day.

One morning I was putting a Band-Aid on a little girl’s scraped knee. Her blonde hair was matted, and I noticed that she was shivering in her thin little sleeveless blouse. I found her a warm sweatshirt and helped her pull it on. “Thanks for taking care of me,” she whispered as she climbed into my lap and snuggled up against me.

It wasn’t long after that when I ran across an unfamiliar lump under my arm. Cancer, an aggressively spreading kind, had already invaded thirteen of my lymph nodes. I pondered whether or not to tell the students about my diagnosis. The word breast seemed so hard to say out loud to them, and the word cancer seemed so frightening.

When it became evident that the children were going to find out one way or another, either the straight scoop from me or possibly a garbled version from someone else, I decided to tell them myself. It wasn’t easy to get the words out, but the empathy and concern I saw in their faces as I explained it to them told me I had made the right decision. When I gave them a chance to ask questions, they mostly wanted to know how they could help. I told them that what I would like best would be their letters, pictures and prayers.

I stood by the gym door as the children solemnly filed out. My little blonde friend darted out of line and threw herself into my arms. Then she stepped back to look up into my face. “Don’t be afraid, Dr. Perry,” she said earnestly, “I know you’ll be back because now it’s our turn to take care of you.”

No one could have ever done a better job. The kids sent me off to my first chemotherapy session with a hilarious book of nausea remedies that they had written. A video of every class in the school singing get-well songs accompanied me to the next chemotherapy appointment. By the third visit, the nurses were waiting at the door to find out what I would bring next. It was a delicate music box that played “I Will Always Love You.”

Even when I went into isolation at the hospital for a bone marrow transplant, the letters and pictures kept coming until they covered every wall of my room.

Then the kids traced their hands onto colored paper, cut them out and glued them together to make a freestanding rainbow of helping hands. “I feel like I’ve stepped into Disneyland every time I walk into this room,” my doctor laughed. That was even before the six-foot apple blossom tree arrived adorned with messages written on paper apples from the students and teachers. What healing comfort I found in being surrounded by these tokens of their caring.

At long last I was well enough to return to work. As I headed up the road to the school, I was suddenly overcome by doubts. What if the kids have forgotten all about me? I wondered, What if they don’t want a skinny bald principal? What if I caught sight of the school marquee as I rounded the bend. “Welcome Back, Dr. Perry,” it read. As I drew closer, everywhere I looked were pink ribbons – ribbons in the windows, tied on the doorknobs, even up in the trees. The children and staff wore pink ribbons, too.

My blonde buddy was first in line to greet me. “You’re back, Dr. Perry, you’re back!” she called. “See, I told you we’d take care of you!”

As I hugged her tight, in the back of my mind I faintly heard my music box playing… “I will always love you.”

Story shared from the following website: http://www.inspire21.com/stories/truestories/thanksfortakingcareofme

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We Have a Dream to Dream and A Life to Build…

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them Walt DisneyOne of the things that I know and understand as a result of my near-death experience is that our heart shares the voice of God with us. I have been shown in dreams some wonderful things. I know that those dreams are meant to become reality.

However, there is a catch. Until and unless I do something to manifest those dreams, they will never come true. I must exercise faith and effort for my dreams to come true.

What about you? Do you have dreams? Is there a desire in your heart that has been placed there by God? Is there something special you are meant to do with your life? I believe the answer to both questions is YES!

We all have special work to do during our lifetime. We all have our hearts speak to us of those special tasks that are ours to manifest. I hope you will enjoy the article I share with you today and that you will dare to dream YOUR DREAM!:

Grow Great By Dreams

The question was once asked of a highly successful businessman, “How have you done so much in your lifetime?”

He replied, “I grow great by dreams. I have turned my mind loose to imagine what I wanted to do. Then I have gone to bed and thought about my dreams. In the night I dream about my dreams. And when I awoke in the morning, I saw the way to make my dreams real. While other people were saying, ‘You can’t do that, it is impossible,’ I was well on my way to achieving what I wanted.”As Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the U.S., said: “We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers.”

“As Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the U.S., said: “We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers.”

They see things in the soft haze of a spring day, or in the red fire on a long winter’s evening. Some of us let these dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nourish them through bad days until they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.

So please, don not let anyone steal your dreams, or try to tell you they are too impossible.

“Sing your songs, and dream your dreams, hope your hope and pray your prayer.”

Today’s inspiring article is shared from the following website: http://www.pravsworld.com/grow-great-by-dreams/

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Are Your Limiting Beliefs Holding You Back?

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore William Faulkner5 False Beliefs that Are Holding You Back

Over the years you’ve created a set of beliefs in your mind that you hold to be true.  Some are indeed helpful and true, while others have completely fooled you.  It’s these latter, false beliefs that quietly hinder your potential and hold you back from the life you are capable of living.

Here are five such false beliefs to be aware of:

1.  Life owes me something.

Just because you’re alive doesn’t mean life is going to hand everything to you.

Life doesn’t just get better by itself.  It isn’t like flying in a plane through turbulence.  Life doesn’t just improve if you fasten your seat belt and wait.

Sadly, so many people expect that a great life is coming to them automatically.  They believe it’ll come next month or next year.  So they continue thinking the same thoughts and doing the same things, just waiting for that day when life will get better.

They come home from work, heat up a microwave dinner and sit on the couch for hours watching TV.  They get on the Internet and spend entire evenings getting nothing done.  They keeping hoping and praying for a change without ever taking action.

When you were younger, you got a trophy if you played sports.  It didn’t matter if you were the leading scorer or the leading benchwarmer.  Adulthood is a bit different.  You don’t get trophies anymore for just showing up.  You have to earn them.

If you keep believing life will somehow automatically improve on it’s own, then you’re going to waste many years of your life in a state of disappointment.

It’s up to you to decide how you want to be.  You are the one that determines the quality of your life.  It is not the people around you, your boss, the government, or anyone else.  If you are serious about being healthy, wealthy, successful, respected and loved, then you are going to have to do something about it.

No one is going to give you the life you dream about except YOU.

Let this be your wake-up call.  Take full control of your life, starting now!

2.  The universe is out to get me.

It seems like life has gone wrong for you in every imaginable way.  You can’t catch a break.  You don’t know why other people are successful and happy, but you’re not.  You believe the universe is somehow working against you.

The truth is the universe doesn’t care about you one bit.  That might sound harsh, but it’s true.  The universe isn’t out to get you.  You aren’t cursed.  You don’t have bad karma following you around.

Why would the universe choose you to be the unlucky one?  It wouldn’t and it hasn’t.  We are all born with a chance to live a full and happy life.  It’s up to you to use the resources the universe has given you – the ones you have right now within you.

If you have an unlucky streak, it’s because you are choosing your own reality with the thoughts in your head and the action you take or don’t take.  If the universe really picked sides, those who grew up poor would always remain poor while the rich would always remain rich.  Obviously this is not true.  There have been many rags to riches stories, and stories of those who have grown up rich and lost everything.

Understand the universe isn’t out to get you.  It wants you to be happy and succeed, but you’ve got to go out and create your own opportunities for happiness.

To start changing how you view the world, start a gratitude journal by writing down three things that you’re thankful for every day.  What this does is to get you in the habit of focusing on what you do have in life – the good, instead of what you do not – the bad.

3.  I am stuck in my current life situation.

Humans are the only creatures on this planet that can choose to change their life situation at any moment.  A shark can’t one day decide to be a chef.  An ant can’t decide it wants to be a dancer.  Their lives are built into their DNA.

You, on the other hand, can change if you want to.  Oftentimes the only problem is that the fear of change is holding you back.  Excuses keep piling up.  You only remember the times you failed, and this memory scares you off from trying again.  You feel hopelessly stuck in life.

What you need to realize is that life isn’t meant to be a straight line that goes from point A to point B.  Life is meant to be a series of zigs and zags.  It should look like a mess, but a beautiful mess.  It shows that you have changed throughout the course of your life.  You’ve had your ups and downs.  You went down one path, but decided to change course… perhaps on many occasions.

That’s how life should be.  Life is a continuous experience of independent present moments and choices.  So whatever situation you are in right now, just know that it can change if you want it to.

It’s up to you.  You just have to choose something new.

4.  It’s too late to start anything.

How old would you think you are if you didn’t know and couldn’t see yourself in the mirror?

Age is just a number.  What’s important is how you feel.

The only reason you think it’s too late to start is because that’s what you grew up believing.  You believe that you should have everything figured out in life before you reach 30, 40, 50, etc.  The older you get, the less opportunity you think you have to do something new.

You think that you have to cram everything in before the general retirement age of 65.  After that, it’s time to play golf, work on your garden, travel, and play with the grandkids.  This simply isn’t true.

If you’re determined to do something, it is never too late to start.  Here are some famous examples of people who started late.

  • Ray Croc was 59 years old when he bought out the McDonald’s brothers.  He turned it into an empire.
  • Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man was 40 when he began drawing these legendary superheroes.  He’s now 90 years old and makes a cameo in every movie based on his comic books.
  • Julia Child didn’t even learn to cook until she was almost 40 and didn’t launch her popular show until she was 50.
  • Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken was 66 when he began to promote his style of cooking and create an empire.

Can you imagine if anyone of them thought it was too late to start?  They wouldn’t have created their best life’s work.

Don’t let age stop you from going after your dreams.

5. Others will think what I’m doing is foolish.

You worry so much about other people’s opinion.  You’re afraid you will get laughed at.  You don’t want people to reject your ideas.  You don’t want to look like a fool.  What you need to realize now:  None of this matters.

At the end of your life when you look back, what you want to remember is a journey that makes you smile.  Regardless of what everyone else thinks of you, if you’ve followed your intuition and done your best, win or lose, you won’t regret a thing.

There have been so many crazy ideas that even the so-called experts thought was a bad idea.  That did not stop these people:

  • J.K. Rowling was penniless, recently divorced, and raising a child on her own.  She wrote the first Harry Potter book on an old manual typewriter.  Twelve publishers rejected the manuscript.  A year later she was given the green light by Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, who agreed to publish the book but insisted she get a day job cause there was no money in children’s books.  The series has sold 450 million copies and made J.K Rowling a billionaire.  So much for publishers who told her, “There’s no money in children’s books.”
  • Can you imagine a gentleman telling you he wants to build a massive theme park where families can spend time together in a hot Florida swamp?  You might not think it’s too crazy now.  However when Walt Disney wanted to build Disney World, he was rejected for financing over 300 times.
  • The Beatles were rejected by many record labels.  In a famously quoted rejection letter, a music label said, “Guitar groups are on the way out” and “the Beatles have no future in show business.”  Shortly thereafter the Beatles signed with EMI, brought Beatlemania to the United States, and became the most influential band in the history of rock and roll.

These are just three examples, but there are countless more.  Each person involved was ahead of his or her time, but they didn’t let other people’s opinions stop them.   There might be something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t because you’re worried about what others will think or of being rejected.  Let these stories inspire you to realize that good fortune favors the bold.

Final Thoughts

If you suffer from one or more of these false beliefs, it’s time to make a change.  When you were younger you didn’t believe these untruths, but as you’ve grown up they have been given more power simply because you have given them more attention.  By doing so, you have slowly become your own worst enemy.

Take back control of your life now.  You can do that by shattering these beliefs and choosing to take positive action today.

 

This article was written by Benny Hsu and is shared from the following website: http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/06/25/5-false-beliefs-that-are-holding-you-back/

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