The Importance of Gratitude

We live in a world that tells us we need more. We are bombarded with endless advertisements and images telling us that we aren’t good enough (as we are), that we need this food, that cosmetic, this surgery, that diet, etc., to shape us into something better…and that will make us happier. Sadly, these are industries driven by cold, hard cash. In most cases, you are an afterthought.

Contentment for the life we are leading at this very moment, for the things and people in our lives, offers us far more for a longer duration of time than your favorite snack food, diet plan, retail therapy, or next fat-reducing treatment. Scientifically, contentment works on the brain, reducing stress and anxiety while increasing such feelings as hope and love. Best of all, we just feel better, period. To me, at least, it’s as though one can breathe again after holding their breath under water for an extended period of time.

Experiencing gratitude takes a lot of practice before it can become a habit of contentment. Since our society encourages us to constantly buy, gain, change, we often program ourselves with negative reminders and punishments when we don’t meet our expectations. Part of the practice is letting go of the negative self-talk and replacing it with positive self-talk. Here’s one easy way of doing just that.

Think of five people/things in your life, right now, that you are grateful for.

That’s it.

When you wake up, take a minute to think of five people/things. When you encounter rush hour and it’s making you grumpy, come up with five people/things. When you want something that your budget just won’t allow, think of five people/things. When the fire alarm sounds and irritates you, think of five people/things. Before you shut your eyes at night, think of five people/things. Anytime you need an uplifting boost to your spirits, think of five people/things.

If you can’t think of five at first, think of three.

If you can’t think of three, think of one.

It all comes down to practice–just going through the process of musing on someone or something we can be truly grateful for changes the way our brain works. Over time, it becomes easier to think of the five, until all those negatives you’d once cataloged each day diminish and vanish in a wave of contentment ushered in by thoughts of all the goodness you have in your lifeĀ right now.

It’s isn’t always easy when you’re feeling down.

No, it’s downright hard when you’re in the dumps.

Do it anyway.

It helps, and it gets easier.

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