Graduating In Gratitude

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings – William Arthur Ward.

The Value of Gratitude

I have made it a practice to begin and end each day with a sentence of gratitude. I also intentionally recognize and verbalize small things throughout the day, for which I am grateful. Applying gratitude to my day changes how I see the day and view people. My perspective is elevated. My heart is enlarged. Self-centeredness is crushed. I discover a desire to be generous and serve others. The problems that once appeared gigantic shrink in the face of gratitude. Through the expression of gratitude, we forge deeper relationships. Additionally, gratitude allows us to be participants in life instead of being critics. Criticism can be constructive, but when it is always turned on, it leads to the toxic fumes of cynicism. 

This Month 

Gratitude keeps downstream thoughts of resentment, envy, and worry at bay, and reduces depression. Dr. Robert Emmons, an expert on gratitude, says it “heals, energizes, and transforms lives.” The following posts will guide us through this month to Graduate in Gratitude.

Oars Of Gratitude (Today’s Post)

There’re Levels To This (November 10th)

Thanksgiving to Thanks-living(November 17th)

NO POST ON NOVEMBER 24TH

On the heels of understanding the value of gratitude, what tools do we need to continue rowing the boat of our lives upstream? I want to highlight two oars that are instrumental. Just as oars steer a boat through the water, the following oars will steer our lives toward greater gratitude.  

Recognize

Recently in the news, there have been discussions surrounding using facial recognition in law enforcement. According to a New York Times article, the discussion posits that facial recognition software “misidentifies people with darker skin and contributes to police bias against black communities.” 

As the opponents and proponents of the software continue to argue, we cannot debate the value of gratitude recognition. The more we recognize opportunities to be grateful, no matter how small, the greater our potential to reap the benefits of gratitude. Dr. Alex Korb, the author of The Upward Spiral, talks about activating the gratitude circuit in our brains. According to Dr. Korb, activating this circuit allows you to “pay more attention to the positive aspects of reality, helping you get a bigger boost from all the wonderful things in your life that are so easily overlooked.” Challenge yourself each day to intentionally be on the lookout for moments that will activate your gratitude recognition circuitry and verbalize them.  

Verbalize

Cultivating gratitude is cemented through expression. There are multitudinous ways to verbalize or express gratitude. When someone holds the door open for you, acknowledging the gesture of kindness with a “thank you” has an impact. Writing a thank you note and mailing it to a friend might reach them at a time when they really need it and make a difference in their life. Plus, it will make a difference in yours. Expressing appreciation during dinner to your spouse or family at the end of the day can change the atmosphere in a home. Recalling an act of kindness that someone did in the past and letting them know about it can do wonders for a friendship or relationship. After a job interview, send the interviewer a thank-you email regardless of whether you get the position. 

These acts of verbalizing gratitude will speak value into other people’s lives while at the same time refreshing your own. This synergistic benefit of gratitude makes it worth rowing upstream. 

Final Thought: This may be hard to believe, but if you are alive, you always have something for which you can be grateful. Pointing it out may be difficult because of the waves coming your way. By taking the oars of recognition and verbalization, you will develop the ability to row your boat upstream in gratitude. A higher quality of life is yours when you choose an attitude of gratitude. If ever you find yourself drifting in a litany of negativity, locate your oars and row your boat. 

Keep on keeping on!

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