Thanksgiving is nearly here. It’s the one day a year Americans set aside to give thanks. I’m fortunate to have much to be thankful for. My and my family’s health is good. I’ve got love and support from family and friends. I’ve achieved or am well on my way to achieving many of my goals. I’ve got a nice, albeit messy home, food in my fridge, and enough money in my bank account to pay my bills.
I know many people don’t have what I have. Some of them have every right to struggle with gratitude. However, I’ve met many people who might have challenges in life, but they’re so focused on them, they don’t recognize the good in their lives. The problem with a glass-half-empty-attitude is that it defeats happiness and success. Think about it. How can someone be happy and successful if the only things they see are what’s wrong or missing?
It’s one thing I’ve admired about my mother. She’s had many struggles in her life, and yet somehow, she always remains positive. I’ve long thought that her glass could be nearly empty and she’d still be happy just to have a glass.
There has been much research on positivity, happiness and success, and in every case, being thankful plays a role in how happy and successful people are. Gratitude improves emotional health, boosts energy, increases confidence and strengthens relationships.
It’s easy to have gratitude when things are going well, but how about when there are challenges in life? That’s when finding things to be thankful for are even more important, as it’s what can pull you out of a funk or difficult situation. Finding things to be thankful for requires a positive attitude. It doesn’t mean ignoring the negative or bad things in life, but instead CHOOSING to find the good. Helen Keller, who was deaf, blind and dumb, is quoted with saying,
Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.
If a woman who couldn’t see, hear or talk can find the light in life, certainly we can too.
While some people are naturally optimistic and able to find gratitude in the smallest things, for many, being thankful takes work. But it can be done if you’re willing to take time each day to find at least one thing to be grateful for. It’s doesn’t have to be huge. In fact, noticing the tiny wonders of the world — your child’s smile, a sunrise or sunset, music — will make a bigger impact on your attitude, happiness and ultimately success than waiting for a big event to be thankful for.
My trick… I end each day by writing at least three things I’m thankful for in that day’s planner square. Other options include writing your gratitudes on a calendar, keeping a journal, or making it a nightly bedtime routine with your kids and/or partner. As you get better at noticing the good in your life, take time to express gratitude at the time you notice it. Like a muscle, the more you express thankfulness, the stronger it gets.
Expressing gratitude sounds like such a little thing; how can it make a difference? Research and many successful people say it does. It won’t hurt. So why not try it?