The Well

Attitude of Gratitude

by Andrew Shaw on Nov.21, 2010, under Recent Posts

I love Thanksgiving, not just because of football and all the yummy food, but because it’s a day to be with loved ones, and it’s a day to remember how very fortunate we are.  This Thanksgiving, and really every day, is a perfect time to express gratitude. An attitude of gratitude can change your life. This concept has been studied and repeatedly proven. Cultivating an appreciative attitude about life can contribute to greater levels of happiness and well-being. 

The comparing mind is a source of much suffering, of dissatisfaction, sadness, jealousy, resentment, anger, worry and stress.  When we compare, we feel that we don’t have enough.  But if we are able to shift our perspective, from our problems to our privileges, from what we lack to what we have, these negative feelings are replaced by gratitude, appreciation, happiness, contentment, love, and compassion.

You can practice and strengthen this attitude every day with a simple exercise; each day spend a few minutes reflecting on the things in your life you are grateful for.  Some people also like to keep a daily gratitude journal to write down what they’re thankful for.

Here’s a guided contemplation on gratitude to get you started:

Bring to mind things that you’re grateful for.  Most of the time we forget about how blessed we really are and we take so many things for granted.  In your day-to-day life, what things are you grateful for? 

It may be that you have food to eat, a safe place to live, a job and a paycheck, or other comforts.  Maybe you feel grateful for having a healthy body and mind, that you have abilities and are capable of doing many things.  You can walk and talk.  You have your senses; you are able to fully experience the wonders of life around you—you can see the beautiful flower, you can feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, you can hear the music of the birds, you can taste life.  You can bring to mind people you feel grateful for; your partner, friends and family, or other significant relationships.  People who are there for you, who support you, love you, and accept you.  You can also think about something that’s happened, is happening now, or is going to happen soon, that you feel grateful for.  A positive event in your life that you’re happy about or thankful for.  You can even feel thankful for the most basic gift.  There are people who are sick and dying… but right now, you have life, you are here, you are alive, and that’s a wonderful thing.  Something as simple as your breath, your heart beating, being alive, may be something you feel grateful for.    

Spend a few moments allowing all the things, people, events you are grateful for to come to mind.  And see if you can feel the gratitude in your heart when it comes, a feeling of warmth, of happiness, of love, of appreciation.  And let this feeling of gratitude, of thankfulness and contentment, flow through you.  If you aren’t able to feel gratitude, that’s okay.  The most important thing is to let yourself be as you are with acceptance.  This may gradually change with more practice and training the mind to notice more and appreciate more.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of joy and gratitude.  Be Well.

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