By Spence Finlayson
“The more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased, That’s because for sure, what you focus on expands. When you focus on the goodness in life, you create more of it.” – Oprah Winfrey
One of the most powerful forces in the universe is gratitude. So an attitude of gratitude? For me it means being grateful for everything in my life, including problems and challenges. The dictionary defines gratitude as “the expression of gratefulness and thanks.”
Gratitude takes away the blues and relieves stress. An attitude of gratitude develops from the way you look at things. Someone once said, “When you change the way you look at things, then the things you look at change.”
Are you still looking for that right relationship? Do you often find yourself complaining about the things you don’t have? Are you stuck in a dead-end job? Do you feel that you don’t seem to get the breaks?
Well, developing and maintaining an attitude of gratitude is a pre-requisite in order to find solutions to these problems and to live a life of fulfilment, purpose and happiness.
Attitude is a mindset, your way of looking at these things, your way of life. In developing this attitude of gratitude look around at all the people who have it worse than you do. There is always someone out there that is in worse shape than you are.
Recently, I did not have to look very far for this. One morning while sitting at my computer I looked outside my office building and saw a dishevelled man going through the garbage bin looking for something to eat. Immediately I felt disgusted and then very grateful.
Every blessing that you have is a gift from God, and I mean everything – from a roof over your head, food to eat, water to take a bath, the people in your life, and time. When you view everything as a gift something almost magical happens. If you treat the people in your life as a gift then your relationships start to change and take on a whole new beautiful form.
Remember what you focus on expands. Focus on the good and you cannot help but have a better attitude and experience of life. Take time out to stop and smell the roses. Gratitude raises your awareness of things around you. It changes your view of so-called ‘bad’ things. I have found that gratitude is a spiritual act because it acknowledges that the origin of all good things is a source outside of ourselves – God.
Here are a few things you can do to make the gratitude attitude a firm fixture in your life: Count your blessings. Start a gratitude list. Write down all the things in your life that you are grateful for. Put this list somewhere you can easily find it and pull it out when you are feeling down and you’ll instantly change your mood.
Show some gratitude. Send a thank you note to someone who did something for you. Give generously of your time, talents and treasure.
There is nothing complicated about gratitude. Stop taking things and people for granted. Put gratitude deep into your consciousness and every day will become one of joy and delight. The choice is yours. You can choose to make a decision to change your life by developing a spirit of gratitude, or you can choose to continue to think negatively.
Scientists performed an experiment in which they asked one group of people to write down the things that they were grateful for on a weekly basis, while the other group recorded hassles or neutral life events. The folks who kept gratitude journals exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were generally more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to their negatively focused counterparts. They also discovered that a one-time act of thoughtful gratitude produced an immediate 10 per cent increase in happiness and 35 per cent reduction in depressive symptoms. The happy effects disappeared within three to six months which shows that gratitude is an act to be repeated again and again.
The people who experience the most gratitude tend to:
• Feel a sense of abundance in their lives
• Appreciate the contributions of others to their well-being
• Recognise and enjoy life’s small pleasures
• Acknowledge the importance of experiencing and expressing gratitude.
Finally, as Americans celebrate their Thanksgiving holiday, try counting your blessings rather than your problems and naming them one by one. May the Lord bless you and keep you!
• Spence M Finlayson is the founder and CEO of The Phoenix Institute For Positive Development, a human resources development firm based in Nassau. He can be reached at 601-6162 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is spencefinlayson.com.