Gratitude is easy – when life is good. Someone hands you a slice of your favorite pie and you’re grateful. Your family is all behaving at your holiday gathering and you’re grateful. You have a nice home and it reflects your happy years together and you’re grateful. You take turns at the Thanksgiving dinner table saying what we’re thankful for. Food, Family, Finances.
In July of this year, Lee and I challenged ourselves to make some changes in our behavior patterns. We worked off an article that explored the 22 Habits of Unhappy People. We looked long and hard at ourselves and had to fess up to some negative behavior patterns. Then we set about changing them in our month long Behavior Exchange Challenge. I am still working successfully at dropping those negative behaviors and adopting new behaviors that will lead me to a happier life.
It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude. It’s gratitude that brings us happiness.
There’s a big difference in being grateful and practicing gratitude. I’m grateful for many things, food, family, finance, but unless I practice saying it out loud I won’t BELIEVE it…I won’t ACT IT…I won’t FEEL it. Along with all those negative behavioral habits I was breaking, I now need to include an active practice of gratitude. It’s much more than the thank you associated with a serving of pumpkin pie.
My son & daughter in law have a ritual they do with their 4 kids every night at the dinner table. They call it their “top 3”. Each person at the table has to list the three best things about that day. What a great reminder of all the good things in life. It’s easy when life is good, but it’s a challenge when life seems to get in your way.
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
In addition to my own daily “top 3” I need to look at the journey behind me and make amends with the good, bad & the ugly of my past. The focus for the rest of the month for me is not just Thankfulness & Gratitude, but finding the gratitude in not just the highlights, but finding the gratitude in the low lights. It’s not as easy as pie, but I’ll feel better after I do it.
Care to Join Me?
Here’s a great example of finding gratitude in your past. The commencement speech by Steve Jobs at Stanford University. Well worth your time!
Then check out this very short video on The Science of Happiness – An Experiment in Gratitude. It really delivers evidence of the link between gratitude and happiness. It’ll leave you with a need to call someone and tell them how thankful you are to have them in your life.
As I focus on the practice of gratitude this month – gratitude for the good, the bad & the ugly part of life, I hope you’ll join me. I’d love to hear your change of perspective.