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A New Point of View

Expressing gratitude can change everything

Maybe you're in a slump and you run into someone you regard as improbably and unfairly lucky - great job, great spouse, good looking and successful creatively to boot. Then you get to hear about their international travel, their new photo show, the surprise birthday party thrown for them and just how damn grateful they are for every little thing in their life.

While you try to keep rising envy out of your voice and eyes as you congratulate them, you're thinking, "What are they doing that I'm not?"

The answer to that question might be pretty darn easy. This "lucky" person could simply be offering thanks for what they've been given in life, whether through prayer, their journal or even verbally. Psychology studies done at the University of California, Davis reveal that students who kept note of the things they were grateful for not only achieved more of their goals, they exercised more, felt healthier and were more optimistic and energetic compared to a control group who focused on neutral or aggravating life events. And there's more!

There were also measurable differences between two gratitude-expressing groups! The first expressed gratitude weekly and the second expressed it daily. The latter group experienced higher levels of positive feelings, determination and energy. Studies by Michael E. McCullough of Southern Methodist University about the Gratitude Disposition, or a temperament that is grateful, found that these people were more spiritual, less materialistic, they had a nearly Buddhist ability to see the interconnectedness of all life. Moreover, they were viewed by their peers as more generous and helpful. In other words, they were positive and possibly more likeable.
It seems that your 'lucky' friend might instead simply be a grateful friend. In other words, your life comes to resemble what you think about. If you think only of what angers you - guess what? Your life grows ever more angry. Perhaps, this is something you've noticed if you have a friend who's always down. And over time, you can see she's got a lot of reasons to be unhappy: no energy, no joy and usually no lover. Yet, deep down you find yourself wondering if she isn't creating her own misery. Well, she may very well be, and whatever life condition you find yourself in, you've created it too.
The good news is that it is incredibly easy to start turning this around.

Email your gratitude
Every morning at work, send yourself an email listing what you have to be grateful for that very minute. Now, say it's a Monday, you're sitting at a your desk working a job you hate, you've overslept, got your coat torn in the subway door and then soaked by a passing cab. What's really to be grateful for? So far, you've had a pretty awful day. Sometimes you've got to use your creativity to see the good in a situation. Simply be grateful that you can pay your bills, that you have a place to sleep, that didn't get dragged to your death by the subway, that the cab didn't run you down. Even in the worst situation, when someone beloved dies, you can be grateful that you were lucky enough to have known and loved him or her.

Take a moment
Before you go to sleep and before you get out of bed in the morning, take a moment to offer silent thanks for being alive, for the earth, and for anything and anyone else that you can think of. This will put you in a better frame of mind for dreaming or for starting your day.

Make a note
Take a page in your journal and offer thanks for everything you've been given by your parents, loved ones and through your own efforts. Then, when you make a daily entry, add one line of gratitude every day.

Over time you'll notice a definite lift in your spirits, you'll feel more energetic and therefore more willing to try new things and take on more goals. The more you get done and achieve, the more energy you have. It's becomes an upward spiral kept moving by your daily effort to stay grateful. Who knew it could be so very easy?

 

 
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