Being grateful is one of the most important ways to express positivity in our lives. This is especially true as we reach our 60s and begin to transition to the next phase of our life.
Gratitude is more than a simple response to a gift, or appreciation for a positive outcome or thanks towards a person who does something nice for us. It is not reactive or conditional, but a constant way of viewing the world. Gratitude is a way of life.
Gratitude, ideally, is a constant condition to strive for – and gratitude does not have to be influenced by our changing circumstances. Gratitude is not just about being thankful for “the things we have” at the moment – it’s not about feeling grateful only for “good things” like good health, getting a job, being financially secure or having love in your life. All of those things can go away in an instant.
In fact, the true art of gratitude is to show appreciation in the middle of challenge, and to remain grateful even while maintaining awareness of possible sadness and suffering in life. Only then does gratitude takes on a different meaning, transmuting the negativity of an occasion into a positive learning experience. No matter what happens to us in our lives, gratitude always gives us an opportunity to grow and be enriched by a challenge.
Of course, everyone’s journey through life offers its share of challenges and hardships. Sometimes life can be very much of a struggle, whether we’re dealing with the end of a marriage, health problems, troubles in our families, financial stress, the death of a loved one, or other pains and stresses.
To show appreciation and gratitude for our lives and our accumulated experience, even in the face of adversity, is not easy. It takes courage to show gratitude for misfortune, bad health or a tragedy. However, with a lens of gratitude there is an opportunity to learn and grow even in tough times, and to see personal challenge as an important life lesson.
What do we mean when we say “Gratitude is a way of life?” It means that we are grateful for our lives every day, in all circumstances – grateful for the most basic fundamentals of life. Gratitude is the lens through which a positive person sees the world. It encourages us to be grateful for the simplest things.
It is an attitude that reminds us to be amazed and thankful for the sheer wonder of life, for nature, and the infrastructure that supports our life. It encourages us to give thanks for the simple things that we in developed countries take for granted – like clean water, electricity, wifi!
Even when life is hard, we can still be grateful for being able to breathe, grateful for having our mental faculties and our senses, grateful for everything that helps us experience each moment in time, even if we are experiencing a moment of pain or sorrow.
Beyond our own immediate sense of well being, gratitude also enriches our relationships with others. Gratitude reminds us to appreciate relationships at all levels – not only for positive relationships with family, friends and colleagues, but also helps us appreciate encounters and associations that are challenging.
Gratitude helps us appreciate our daily interactions with strangers, and even helps us find meaning in negative or angry encounters with other people.
Gratitude helps us forgive people who have hurt us – we can have an attitude of appreciation and forgiveness and patience.
When someone else’s actions cause you to feel angry or sad, gratitude can help you re-evaluate the situation by saying to yourself, “I am grateful that I am able to learn from this experience, forgive this person, and move on as a stronger individual.”
It is big enough to take on the full spectrum of emotions and life experiences. Having an attitude of gratitude starts with a simple awareness that we have been given the gift of life and we have the ability to choose how we engage with our world. We can choose to be positive or not.
Having a positive attitude reduces stress and boosts the immune system, and a simple “count your blessings” mentality is good for your physical well being. Positivity and generosity promote social connections and being grateful for community shapes a state of belonging.
Whether we are feeling ill or are experiencing challenges in life, the fact that we are breathing and alive on the planet is a gift. Just being here to experience the day is a unique gift that we can share. Gratitude motivates us to share our thoughts and our gifts with others, and it gives us a positive point of reference to focus on.
When we show our gratitude, we strengthen our positive thoughts. We turn our attention away from what we do not have, and focus instead on the many wonderful things that we do have.
We have the power to bring our gratitude into the world. Appreciation is enhanced when we don’t just keep it inside.
When we write down our grateful thoughts for the day, or tell a friend what we are grateful for, or even share on Facebook or social media about how grateful we’re feeling, and why we’re grateful, our positive thoughts become habits of mind and we become more positive people. And hopefully, this spirit of positivity spreads to the wider community around us.
One of the best ways to cultivate a stronger spirit of gratitude is to make a “gratitude list,” where you make a simple list of things in your life that make you grateful. Get Started Today.
Write down three things that you are grateful for. If you feel comfortable, share your grateful thoughts with a family member or trusted friend.
Do you agree that being grateful is one of the keys to happiness in life after 60? Why or why not? What are you grateful for today? Please join the conversation below.