Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 7th 2013 Contents Gratitude seems like a lost virtue in
this generation that expects and de-
mands instant satisfaction. When cou-
pled with our penchant for being easily
dissatisfied, we might have to re-culti-
vate an attitude of gratitude. It will
help to remember that gratitude also
comes with benefits that can enhance
our lives, improve our perception and
inspire our reactions to the vicissitudes
of modern-day life.
Gratitude deflects discontentment.
Conditioned by modern-day society,
coupled with in-your-face advertising,
we readily believe that if we had just one
more, the latest model or the hottest
trend, we would be content. A grateful
attitude shifts our focus from the things
we may feel are missing in our lives to
contentment and appreciation for what
we do have. When we are content, we
are happy, which in turn, fosters kind-
ness and generosity towards others.
Gratitude diverts the slide into self-
pity. Have you ever noticed how often
our conversations are reduced to a
verbal "competition" about whose life is
worse? We feed off one another and
stoke the fires of dissatisfaction and
disaffection. Gradually, we degenerate
into a group of grumbling and bitter
people. Gratitude, in the midst of
difficulty and despair stirs the pot of our
lives and brings blessings to the surface
to divert our slide into self-pity.
Gratitude deters complacency. Grati-
tude is a critical component of the proac-
tive life. It discourages complacency by
lifting the bounty - however small - of
what we have and what we have accom-
plished to inspire us to seek new ways to
improve our lives, enliven our relation-
ships, confront and solve problems, stir
our dreams and set goals to achieve
them. Gratitude shines a light on our
gifts and talents and the life lessons we
have learned to show us where and how
we can use them to enhance our lives
and help others.
Are your days filled with com-
plaining? Here are a few habits
that can help you re-cultivate
gratitude in your life.
Acknowledge God's hand in your life.
In His infinite wisdom, God ordains the
seasons of adversity and prosperity in
your life -- each bringing its own lessons
to make you wiser and stronger.
Make a decision to be grateful every
day. There may be situations that cause
you stress and anxiety. Nevertheless,
every morning, set a goal to replace in-
cessant complaining with thoughts and
words of thankfulness.
Say thank you. Who makes your life
easier, richer, simpler - parents, siblings,
husband, wife, children, neighbours,
friends, the baby-sitter, the pharmacist,
the vendor, ...? Let them know.
Be mindful of the little things. Strive to
be aware of all the aspects of your per-
sonal, professional and family life for
which you are thankful. Take a few min-
utes every day or weekly, to acknowl-
edge the often overlooked and forgotten
"little things". If you wish, you could
begin a gratitude journal for this practice
and use it to encourage yourself when
you are frustrated or depressed.
Teach your children to be grateful. One
of the most lasting contributions you
can make to your children's well-being is
to teach them not only to be content,
but also to be grateful. Of course, they
will learn this lesson best as you live it
before their eyes.
Choose and cultivate grateful friends.
Stay close to grateful people because
they inspire gratefulness in others. Make
Robert Emmons, arguably the world's
leading expert on the science of grati-
tude shared these research-based tips
for reaping the greatest psychological
rewards from your gratitude journal.
• Don't just go through the motions. Re-
search by psychologist Sonja
Lyubomirsky and others suggests that
journaling is more effective if you first
make the conscious decision to become
happier and more grateful. "Motivation
to become happier plays a role in the ef-
ficacy of journaling," says Emmons.
• Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating
in detail about a particular thing for
which you're grateful carries more bene-
fits than a superficial list of many things.
• Get personal. Focusing on people to
whom you are grateful has more of an
impact than focusing on things for which
you are grateful.
• Try subtraction, not just addition. One
effective way of stimulating gratitude is
to reflect on what your life would be like
without certain blessings, rather than
just tallying up all those good things.
• Savour surprises. Try to record events
that were unexpected or surprising, as
these tend to elicit stronger levels of
• Don't overdo it. Writing occasionally
(once or twice per week) is more benefi-
cial than daily journaling. In fact, one
study by Lyubomirsky and her col-
leagues found that people who wrote in
their gratitude journals once a week for
six weeks reported boosts in happiness
afterward; people who wrote three
times per week didn't. "We adapt to pos-
itive events quickly, especially if we con-
stantly focus on them," says Emmons. "It
seems counterintuitive, but it is how the
a pact with your friends to counter each
other's chronic complaining with expressions
of gratitude for something.
There is much to frighten and frustrate us in
this world but we can be calmer, happier, more
contented and more proactive if we re-culti-
vate the attitude and practice of gratitude.
What would happen if you made grat-
itude your focal point for one full year?
With Living in Gratitude, Angeles Arrien
invites us to cultivate the power of deep
appreciation so that it becomes our foun-
dation for daily living. Integrating the lat-
est findings from social science with
stories, prayers, teachings,
the art of giv-
Learn more on gratitude, visit: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu
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