There is a over abundance of books, articles, and blogs written on the subject of gratitude but did you know that being grateful is actually an antidote to anger?
Gratitude is a conscious state of appreciation, the ability to feel good in the midst of difficulties and disappointments, and maintaining a positive mind frame even in a negative world. But it is more than simply a positive attitude or sense of appreciation. It is also the ability to find value in everything – even and especially the hardships, betrayals, failures, injustices, losses, and tragedy. It has no relation to economic status, location, who is or is not in your life, or to what is occurring. It is a lifestyle choice, a permanent way of living, a chosen state of being. And it is something anyone can acquire.
Gratitude is a transformative power. It can convert a time of hardship and sadness into one of hope and joy. Typically when something unfortunate or bad happens we focus on the negative aspect of the event. “I lost my job. I can’t pay my bills.” “My boyfriend broke up with me. I’m all alone.” Focusing on the negative evokes feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, fear, rejection, hurt, anger, etc. Left unchecked, this can propel us into a downward spiral leading to resentment, thoughts of revenge or self-pity. However, when one consciously chooses to find the treasures in the trash, as I like to refer to them, then they choose to see the blessings and opportunities. “Now I’m free to pursue a new career. Thanks goodness I can collect unemployment in the interim.” “This relationship has taught me a lot which I can apply to make my next one an even better one.” See how easy that is? While it takes discipline initially, in time a grateful mindset becomes second nature.
The human mind can only experience one emotion at a time. Anger focuses on lack, what’s missing, unfair, or wrong. Gratitude sees the possibilities, the lessons, the value and purpose.
Here are six tips to help you become a more grateful person:
1. Keep a gratitude journal. Every day for thirty consecutive days, list ten unique things you are grateful for. No duplicates.
2. Make a public commitment to be more grateful. Tell your friends, family, and social media connections. Post your successes. This will help to hold you accountable.
3. Change your self-talk. Keep it positive. Tell yourself how much you appreciate every small detail of your life.
4. Reframe any negative situation into a positive one. Actively seek the good within.
5. Take notice of everything good you see in everyone you encounter. Make certain to let them know how much you appreciate who they are and what they’ve done. Not only will this transform you but it will impact them and your relationship with them as well.*Bring out the best in others, always.
6. Recite daily prayers of gratitude. I begin each day with the following prayer: “Dear God, thank you for everything you have given me, for everything you have taken away from me, for everything you have left me and for everything that is yet to come. Amen.” This serves as a reminder to live in a state of appreciation each and every moment of the day.
Anger or gratitude – each is a personal choice. One creates misery and suffering, the other joy and happiness. But you can’t have both. Life is easier and far more enjoyable when living in a state of appreciation. The choice is yours.
*This one simple shift completely transformed my marriage. Rather than be resentful over what was “lacking” in my husband, I followed God’s instruction and sought every reason to appreciate the wonderful man my husband is. I also repeatedly expressed my gratitude to him each and every day. The more he felt appreciated and valued by me, the happier he was and the more he wanted to contribute to our relationship. Eighteen years later we are happier than ever before and our marriage is a warm, comfortable, and safe place for both of us.
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