We’ve all heard the platitudes about why we should be grateful. And most of us can manage it on a semi-regular basis, perhaps during the holidays or on our birthdays. But the reality is that living a life of consistent gratitude helps us in real, tangible ways.
Summer Allen addresses the question, “Is Gratitude Good for Your Health?” in the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine, where she shares “After 15 years of research, we know that gratitude is a key to psychological well-being. Gratitude can make people happier, improve their relationships, and potentially even counteract depression and suicidal thoughts.”
In the article, Allen shares that Berkeley researcher Jeff Huffman takes it further, “There is growing evidence that being grateful may not only bring good feelings. It could lead to better health.”
Click the link above to learn more about the preliminary research that suggests that grateful people may have better sleep, healthier hearts and fewer aches and pains.
But How Do You Do It?
That all sounds great, yes? But how do we create an attitude of gratitude when life and all its problems keep getting in our way? To answer that question, we went to social media and asked. We’re sharing what we learned here:
- “I consider every part of the journey a milestone... good or bad. Disappointments are teaching points that test levels of perseverance, while the celebration is the reward and the moment I keep hunting. All in all, there’s gratitude in learning and gratitude in succeeding.” ~ Chris H.
- “Say ‘thank you.’ Often!” ~Martha Jane H.
- “Wake up and realize every day is a gift. After 30 years as a medic, you see a lot of people who didn't wake up, and it makes me grateful for the day that I have been given. Use every day as if it is your last, treat everyone like it will be the last time you see them. Love everyone like there's no tomorrow. Because there is no equality in death, and this may your last day. Just my way I start every day.” ~Randy R.
- “We have gratitude jars. We'll share what we put in them at the end of the year.” ~Lynnae H.
- “By staying ‘present’ and not obsessing on future or past. By making gratitude an action word. It’s a part of my morning prayer: ‘Please keep me in faith, not fear, in gratitude, not ingratitude. Please let me treat this day like the gift that it is...another day alive and clean.’ I also try to live by the phrase “want what you have.” ~Mike C.
- “Prayer.” Stefanie U.
- “In July 2012, I was invited to join a group called the 90 Day Gratitude Attitude Challenge, started by my now friend and neighbor, Laura. The premise was to daily post in the closed group about what we were grateful for, and to dig deeper than ‘it was sunny today.’ Profound gratitude for the most challenging of life’s events and occurrences ensued, and after 90 days, the page has lived on, all of these years. A Gratitude Tribe developed, and we have met offline, and continue to develop relationships with each other. A daily gratitude practice has helped my mood, lifted me when I’m inconsolable, and challenged me to find the gratitude in the biggest challenges I’ve faced over the past seven years. It’s a habit now, a way of life. And my life is so much better for it.” ~Sharon B.
- “Learning. Negative experiences always end up being the best lessons, and I try to remember that.” ~Amy D.
- “We started having family dinners every Sunday and invite both sets of parents and other family members nearby. It’s our way to stay in touch on a regular basis and share stories about our daily lives. We always say a prayer before our meal and give thanks for our blessings.” ~Jennifer W.
- “Daily gratitude meditations.” ~Shannon W.
- “When something I usually have no control over angers or saddens me, I often think about how I can turn it around. Can I take a small step toward a good resolution, at least in my corner of the world? If I can, I take that step, and it makes me very grateful to have the power to do so!” ~Christel H.
- “My gratitude overwhelms me. It's difficult to get it into focus.” ~Jeanmarie B.
- “About 15 years ago I received a call from a board member who told me that a state senator and her aid loved donating to us because I was so gracious when they gave us money and that I made them feel like they had given me the crown jewels (their words, not mine). I was a bit taken aback because I thought that everyone expressed gratitude in a way that would let the donor feel good about their donation.” ~Pam R.
- “A simple act: when I walk my dog and she follows a command, I say ‘thank you’ because I know my brain responds well to hearing those words, and I notice that it instantly changes the way I feel.” ~Marti B.
- “My niece displayed the attitude of gratitude at a young age when she received two of the same Barbies for her seventh birthday. She got so excited because now she had twins!” ~Pam R.
- “We have a huge family. There were 12 siblings, and they have given us many nieces and nephews. We have six children and seven grandchildren and chase them all over the United States just to do a ‘project’ with them. One way we can show gratitude is to take our travel trailer so they don’t have to get out their air beds.” ~ Joy V.
- “I’m grateful for my brothers. We have had a tough year but know we all have each other’s backs. I could not have been through what I did without their love and support.” ~Mark T.
- “Sometimes gratitude comes in the face of another's hardship. I am grateful that I wasn't in the car accident l passed on the road. And I immediately release a prayer for the victims to be ok and/or the victims' families to find strength and peace and that the insurance adjusters treat them fairly and with compassion. I learned this at a retreat at a cloistered convent. A nun living there would listen to the radio and pray for those in need across the road. I never realized how grateful I am for this lesson until having to answer this question.” ~Pam R.
- “Dinner time table grace, thanking God for the day, the food, our health and His love.” ~Patty H.
- “I REALLY love smelling my family and snuggling and running my fingers through their hair. I try to savor all of the moments, because at this stage in the game I realize how fast it goes when you’re raising kids. My husband is a joy to look at. I have NEVER been able to put my finger on what it is about him, but one look and I melt, even on days when I am stressed and overworked and not showered. I know he thinks I’m nuts, but I love to notice him. Living with people is not easy, but the positives sure outweigh the negatives.” Amy D.
- “It is what combats all hopelessness and fear for me. I believe it is difficult for them to coexist, and gratitude almost always wins.” ~Jill M.
Since Pam R. has shared so many experiences with us, we’re going to use her words to sum up this article. “The attitude of gratitude is joy — joy that someone cares enough to give you a gift whether it be a friend, stranger or the driver of the car who lets you in front of them. Take joy and spread joy. Relish in your opportunities, like the joy I just experienced when a student's 3-year-old rushed into my office to say ‘good morning.’ The world is full of gifts for which we can be grateful! And having the attitude of gratitude makes my world a better place.
We’re grateful for all of the readers and contributors to Just the Positive. Being able to read and share your stories is a constant reminder of how great our community and this world really are.
How do you stay grateful? Please share your thoughts on our Facebook page. We might even use them in a follow-up story!