By Jeff Taylor, MAC, LPC
What are you grateful for?
Family? Friends? Kids? God?
How often do you truly think about those things?
Here is my definition of gratitude: Developing a mindset of reflection upon those things that truly matter and give life meaning. Here is a simple starting point for what truly matters. Feel free to write it down so you don’t forget:
Many people know that my favorite movie is “Cinderella Man”. It is the story of James Braddock, a boxer in the 1930’s, who had his life completely fall apart in the context of the Great Depression. In one of the greatest comebacks in boxing history, he fought his way back to earn a shot at the title with the heavyweight champion, Max Baer. Many sports journalists were stunned by his comeback. In the press conference before the boxing match he was asked a simple question:
“What are you fighting for?”
His answer was given with a quiet yet profound determination.
When we focus each day on things that matter it contributes to a deep sense of meaning and purpose. If you desire to be someone that people truly want to spend time with and even more importantly, be like, then cultivating appreciation is the right path. Gratitude has been shown to lessen depression, lower blood pressure and even lengthen life. Being grateful actually increases the level of dopamine in the brain that produces pleasure. So, if you want to feel good BE grateful.
Skills to practice to cultivate gratitude:
Before you get out of bed each day think of five things for which you want to express gratitude for that day. Throughout that day look for ways to express them to others.
Here’s a simple but hard one--stop complaining. When you find yourself complaining say or write five things first for which you are deeply grateful.
Keep a gratitude journal. Each day write as many things as you can think of that you appreciate. Make the list new each day. At the end of the week reflect upon ALL that you have written.
With each person you interact with do these three things: 1) really listen 2) use appropriate touch (a hug, hand on the shoulder etc) 3) thank them for something. See how people respond.
Tell the people closest to you WHY you appreciate them.
Gratitude is not something that just happens. It involves the decisions we make each day, comes from what we think about and how we treat those around us.