Gratitude. A simple word. One we think we understand, and in the general sense, we do. But what we often fail to understand is the power of gratitude in our lives. Not just the feel-good power, but the actual benefit to our very practical, everyday lives.
You see, what we experience in life has a great deal to do with our perspective, with what we choose to focus on, day in, day out. Study after study shows that people who choose to focus with gratitude on the events of their daily lives, big and small, tend to be happier, healthier and live longer.
Grateful people are more optimistic. They see the pluses in their lives, rather than dwelling on the minuses. The result? Grateful people have stronger immune systems, better cardiovascular health, and as result, can more often than not, live longer.
Coming out of the pandemic, however haltingly, what can we be grateful for? For example, I am grateful that I have strengthened certain friendships. With the ease and benefit of Zoom, and my work having fallen away so much over the past year and a half, I had the time, means, and the desire, to connect with friends I otherwise met up with on a far less frequent basis.
Other friendships I let quietly slip away into oblivion, as I realized they were not that relevant to my life, nor mine to theirs. A realization I may not have come to where I am without the luxury of time to think on these things.
I am infinitely more grateful, as our activities resume, for the ballroom dancing I missed so much through the long months of social isolation. Sure, we’re still masked, and must be vaccinated, but these seem like minor inconveniences compared to the renewed joy of dance.
Bonnie Bowen, at 91, is no doubt grateful for her renewed ability to do what she loves best – paint. Over the past many months, Bonnie painted whimsical renditions of life as we experienced it during the pandemic.
Charming, uplifting paintings, appreciated by many as Bonnie’s daughter posted them on Facebook. Bonnie contracted Covid, but recovered well, and was able to resume her beloved art after a mere three weeks of being off-line.
We don’t need disastrous experiences to engage our sense of gratitude. Indeed, life is full of opportunities to be grateful, from the very moment we open our eyes in the morning to when we shut them in sleep.
The sun rose. There’s something to be grateful for. Your eyes opened. Another thing to be grateful for. Because whatever’s going on in your life, you have an opportunity to make it better this new day, even if it’s already wonderful. Whatever family, or friends, or pets you have in your life, these are beings to be grateful for. The list goes on and on.
If you really want to reap the benefits of gratitude, generate a “list of things I am grateful for” every day, what some call “count your blessings.” I write mine out by hand every morning. It doesn’t take but a couple of minutes, yet that simple exercise sets me up for the day on a positive note.
You can certainly type yours into your mobile or computer, but writing by hand seems to imbed things more powerfully into our minds.
Whatever your choice, remember that gratitude matters. Let it take a bigger place in your mind and heart, and enjoy the many benefits it brings.
What are you grateful for right now? Have you been grateful for something that surprised you? If so, what? What has the pandemic shown you about gratitude?
Tags Being Grateful