Thankful is a State of Mind

Some definitions of gratitude are “a feeling of appreciation or thanks” or “the quality of being thankful.” Human beings were originally created to survive, with a built-in fight or flight response, therefore we aren’t hard-wired to be grateful.  Studies show that practicing gratitude can have a very positive effect on our health, happiness and social lives.  In fact:

  • Shields you from negativity
  • Makes you at least 25% happier
  • Rewires your brain
  • Eliminates stress
  • Heals
  • Improves sleep
  • Increases self-esteem and performance
  • Improves relationships
  • Pleases God

Here are seven simple ways to cultivate gratitude in your life:

Take notice.  Be aware of your negativity, complaining or gossiping.  Pay attention to how you are seeing the world.  When in traffic, are you angry and blaming the driver in front of you?  Are you allowing your circumstances to dictate your mood or are you able to breathe and get into a state of calmness and gratitude?  Think, “I am so grateful that I have this car and it will get me where I need to go despite this traffic.”  Be mindful of how you are thinking and feeling when a situation arises.

This is also true for those you surround yourself with. Hang with complainers and we naturally start complaining. Be around gossipers and it’s doubly hard not to gossip.

Keep a gratitude journal.  I think Oprah is who made this popular, but it works. Spend a few minutes each day writing down or noting what you are grateful for.  This will help you remember that, even if you are having a hard time, there are still many things in life for which you can give thanks.  Feeling gratitude in any given moment can shift your physiology and focus.

About 20.91 million individuals residing in the United States belong to the global top one percent of ultra-high net worth individuals worldwide in 2020. Now if you’re not feeling like you are one of those 20 million folks, remember around 60 percent of the world’s population — 4.5 billion people — either have no toilet at home or one that doesn’t safely manage human waste.  In fact, almost half a million American households lack basic indoor plumbing. Feeling wealthier now?

Switch your point of view.  After you have begun noticing and writing what you are thankful for, start switching your point of view from negative to positive, upset to grateful.  This takes time and practice.  You are responsible for your own thinking, and you can create an air of gratitude simply by saying that you feel this way!  In some cases, you can even fake it until you make it.

Be humble.  Humility is the “act of being modest or respectful.”  Think about what you take for granted and if you can shift your attitude and position.  Humility helps us be open to new ways of thinking and experiencing the world.

Humble people can receive a bad rap. Humility is frequently associated with being too passive, submissive or insecure, but this couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Instead, humble people are quite the opposite—confident and competent in themselves so much that, as a result, they seek to lift up others. Humble people don’t feel the need to boast about themselves but instead, let their actions speak for their ideals. To be humble is not to think less of oneself, but to think of oneself less.

To help identify what humility looks like (and how you can adopt greater humility for yourself. After all, who doesn’t need greater humility?), here are a few habits of humble people:

  • They’re Situationally Aware – situational awareness is a function of emotional intelligence as it is being aware of oneself, the group, the actions of each and the social dynamics therein. As such, situationally aware people aim their focus outward as they try to absorb/learn more about the situation.
  • They Retain Relationships – studies have shown that humble people are more likely to help friends. As a result, they maintain stronger personal and professional relationships.
  • They Put Others First – Humble people know their self-worth. As a result, they don’t feel the need to cast themselves before others just to show them how much they know.
  • They Listen – There’s nothing more annoying than being in a conversation with somebody who you can just tell is dying to get his or her words in. When you see their mental gears spinning, it’s a sign they’re not listening but rather waiting to speak. Why? Because they believe that what they have to say is more valuable than listening to you. In other words, they’re placing their self-interest first.
  • They’re Curious – Humble people seek knowledge because they are perpetual learners and realize that they don’t have all the answers. They glean knowledge from the experiences of others and crave more opportunities to learn.
  • They Start Sentences With “You” Rather Than “I” – Humble people put others at the forefront of their thoughts. Humble people brag about others, while prideful people brag about themselves.
  • They Accept Feedback – Humble people are not only receptive to constructive criticism but actively seek it because they know that feedback is a pathway to improvement.
  • They are avid learners – Humility displays a willingness to learn and become better–two things that everybody should cultivate.

Share your appreciation.  Give a compliment or praise.  Let other people know that you appreciate them. Practice random acts of kindness and expect nothing in return.  Put out positive vibes and energy just because you can. Say thank you.

See the silver lining in every situation.  Make lemonade out of lemons.  Ask yourself, “what can I learn from this?”  “How can I prevent this negative event from happening again or how can I have a different reaction next time?”  In every situation, there is opportunity to learn and grow.

Donate.  Be giving of your time, energy and financial resources.  Join a cause that speaks to you because you are grateful for what you have been given or able to earn.  Donating helps us live in gratitude because we are helping people who are less fortunate.

Know in your heart that God is good and that even though life can be hard sometimes, our attitudes can play a big role in how we experience it.  Be thankful, show gratitude and have a Blessed Thanksgiving.

Blogging for God and you,

Deb Bostwick