What’s in your toolbox?
We all would like a more peaceful life. However, it doesn’t always come naturally. I find I need some tools to help me when times get tricky. My favorite item in my Peaceful Life Toolbox is gratitude. It costs nothing, and has so many benefits.
Think for a minute – when was the last time someone genuinely thanked you for something? How did it make you feel? Did your mood lift? How about your enthusiasm level? You were probably even motivated to do more.
Now think about a time you expressed your gratitude to someone else. Not only did it benefit the person you expressed your thanks to, but it probably also made you feel better. It’s contagious – in a good way.
Feeling grateful can give you the motivation to keep going, find your purpose, live your life to the fullest.
Let’s discuss just a few of the benefits of gratitude:
Reaching your goals
When you feel grateful, it tends to be a lasting and selfless feeling. It’s much more than just a momentary burst of positive energy. Gratitude is a strong motivator that can provide a great boost for you to stay motivated as you accomplish your goals.
Here’s a tip – when you express your gratitude to others, ensure that you’re open and clear with what you are telling them. Talking is better than texting. People don’t always know what you’re thinking; hearing it can make all the difference.
There are many ways you can express your gratitude to your loved ones, including saying, “Thank you,” writing a letter, or giving them a thoughtful gift. When you learn to avoid taking your loved ones for granted, you’ll have a stronger, longer lasting, and more loving relationship.
Your relationships with friends, family, and co-workers will all improve if you express gratitude.
Showing gratitude is a two-way street. Learn how to effectively express your gratitude and, just as importantly, to receive it as well. Think of it as a gift from one person to another. You wouldn’t want to give someone a gift and have them hand it back to you. When someone gives you a compliment, accept it graciously. If you don’t know what to say, just say thank you.
Gratitude can mean better communication all around. By expressing your gratitude to others, they are more open to hear what else you have to say. If you have an issue at the store, who is the clerk more likely to help – the gracious customer or the demanding one?
When friends and family feel appreciated, they are more able let their guard down. This helps them relax and you may find they are more open to listen to what you have to say.
Did you know that gratitude is such a powerful tool that it can even help you communicate with your pets! They feel things more than we realize and should be appreciated too.
It can help with accepting criticism
Be honest with yourself – how much do you like being criticize? No matter how the giver expresses criticism – no matter how loving or constructive, it often makes the receiver defensive or even angry. No one likes to feel like they don’t measure up. Start the conversation with a compliment. You can express criticism quite effectively, and it will be received much easier, when you also emphasize what you appreciate about them.
Take a little time each morning to write things you are thankful for in a journal. This helps you preserve memories in a positive way that may have been forgotten otherwise. You’ll be able to enjoy your memories again and again when you read about them in the future.
Your gratitude journal doesn’t just have to be about big things. Little things are just as important. A good night’s sleep, a warm house, good food are all reminders of how good our life is.
Show Your Gratitude Even on Hard Days
Showing gratitude to others may seem like a selfless act, but it’s something that you also benefit from. When you show your gratitude every day, you change the way you think.
You’ll appreciate your good life when the majority of your thoughts remain positive. Negative thoughts can sometimes be overwhelming, and just because you have them doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. They happen to everyone, but you don’t have to hold on to them. Gratitude can empower you to find the lessons in the tough times.
One way to show your gratitude every day is to remind yourself of the big picture when a negative thought arises. If a petty argument with your spouse makes you feel angry and heated, take a deep breath and think for a moment. Remember that the argument is not permanent and, instead, feel grateful for the gift of this relationship.
Times of trouble can make it more difficult for you to feel the gratitude in your heart. However, you can still show gratitude despite challenging issues in your life. If challenging times are affecting your ability to see gratitude, consider these ideas:
Find something positive
You may be going through a stressful or difficult period in your life, but it shouldn’t stop you from seeing positive things. Ask yourself – what are the positive areas in your life that aren’t being affected by your current challenges? Do you still have your home and health? Do you still have a job that provides for your family? By focusing on the positive aspects of your life, you’ll find areas in which you can still feel thankful.
Don’t forget the small stuff
It’s easy to lose sight of the small details if you’re overwhelmed by a difficult situation at home or at work. However, if you learn to treasure the details, you’ll welcome gratitude back into your life. What is something you are happy about right now? Are you proud of a small project you recently completed? Did you just finish reading a good book? Is a friend or family celebrating something special?
These small details can make a big difference in your gratitude levels. Remember to write them in your journal so you can go back to them on the hard days.
Take time to laugh
It’s important to add joy to your daily schedule. Watch a comedy, read a comic book, or share jokes with friends. Add laughter to your routine. Laughter can help you feel appreciation toward your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. It is great for your happiness hormones and has many other health benefits.
Put everything in perspective
Make it a point to avoid getting lost in the negative emotions of your challenges by helping others that may be having a hard time as well. You may discover that there are others who have even more challenges than you. If you’re worried about your house, job, or health, think about those who have even less.
Perspective can help you understand that everyone faces difficult challenges. You’re not alone, and you can still feel grateful for other things in your life.
Remember – everything is temporary
Change is a regular part of existence, but when you’re struggling, you might feel as if your life will never change. Remind yourself that changes occur all the time, and change can lead to gratitude.
You can show your gratitude by recognizing that changes occur and will lead to better things. If you feel trapped and stagnant, keep in mind that a transformation is possible. It may take time, friends, effort, and perseverance, but you’ll get past your difficult situation. Set your mind to it, be focused, and be positive.
You can find and practice gratitude even during the hardest of times. Search for the positive areas in your life, even as you struggle in other areas. Remember that you’re not alone and that everything seems bigger at the time. Soon, you’ll find yourself feeling the gratitude even for the hard times. You’ve got this.
Find your purpose – find your joy!