Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The ABC's of Gratitude

I was recently on a panel for the blog radio show, Gab with the Gurus. The topic was gratitude. I encourage you to listen in. However, here are a few questions that weren’t asked, but how I would’ve responded if I had the chance.

What Role Does Gratitude Play in Your Life?

Honestly, I wasn’t always a grateful person. I was like a lot of folks who took the good things in my life for granted. My parents tried to instill me with a sense of appreciation, but I was a typical kid, and the middle child to boot, so I was always arguing because I thought my siblings were getting a bigger piece of cake, and I was getting more than my fair share of the yucky liver and onions.

But I enjoyed reading motivational books and gratitude was always a common thread. In fact, it was a sense of gratitude in the messages that I read in other books that finally made me, and my co-author, Jackie decide to write a self-help book. We realized that many individuals had suffered so much in their lives that they would not be able to embrace an optimistic approach, or adopt a sense of gratitude until they eliminated their negative behavior. Trying to be optimistic, or grateful, without addressing daily, negative behavior would be like treating the symptom, but not the cause.

What are Some Ways to Increase Gratitude and Help Others?

I love the line in the Joni Mitchell song, “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.” I came back from two weeks of camping and I have new appreciation for flushing toilets, running water and a nice, comfortable bed.

Back-to-basic camping is a good reminder of the many things we take for granted. Most of us are not going to purposely put ourselves in a position where we lack the things we want and need, but we can put ourselves in situations where we can appreciate what we have by choosing to help those who are less fortunate than we are. For instance, we can volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit an elderly person in a nursing home or become a reader for the visually impaired. There are thousands of opportunities. The benefit is two fold. You not only learn to appreciate things in your life that you previously took for granted, you also have the opportunity to help others and become a source of light in the world.

Name one reason that people are negative and ungrateful?

A sense of entitlement is a big reason, but if you ask the ungrateful folks why they are bitter, they are more likely to tell you they had an unhappy childhood. My observation is people’s perception starts early, and it takes work to shift them into a more grateful mindset. Plus, we are bombarded by negative news. It skews people's thinking. The world is not 100% bad, but the bad stuff is what is getting reported. You have to change your world view a bit to get a more balanced perspective. Good things happen every day. You have to look for them. That’s why gratitude journals and daily affirmations are so important. It’s more than seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. It’s a reality check or balancing technique against the bombardment of negativity in the news.

What are three tips on how to become more grateful?

In the first chapter of my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, we begin with having the reader pay attention to their thoughts, speech and actions. Becoming aware is the first step. Once they are aware they can take steps to change their behavior. People have no idea how many negative things they say until they are asked to count them in an hour.

1. Become aware of the problem. A lot of ungrateful people think they are just being realistic.
2. Replace negative or ungrateful behavior with something positive. Instead of whining, do something to correct the situation, even if it’s writing a letter to the editor. The first behavior puts the person in a victim mentality. Taking action, even a small action, puts you in a more empowering mode.
3. Smile. It sounds simplistic, but if you spend one minute in the morning and smile at yourself in the mirror, something changes. If you are grouchy, chances are good the irony of it will make you laugh. And that’s a good thing!

These are a few hints on how to incorporate gratitude and happiness into your life. But don’t stop there, I encourage you to read the many wonderful books that are available on the subject.

The main thing is to do something, anything, to live a more grateful life. You will be so grateful that you did.

1 comment:

Connie Bennett said...

Thanks for amplifying, Sally. This is great information.

Sorry you didn't have time to address all your great points on my Gab with the Gurus Radio Show. But thanks again for participating. Loved your insights.

See the thank you here for you and all the other wonderful experts.

Connie Bennett
Host, Gab with the Gurus Radio Show