We know that there are good things in the world around us and we are aware that there have been gifts we have received, yet our everyday lifestyle that we have created makes it difficult to stand still and recognize all of the goodness in our lives. We rush from place to place running errands, picking up children, holding up commitments, doing all things that we believe to be the important and necessary things in our lives. Most nights (if you are anything like me), your head hits the pillow and you are fast asleep in no time. The time we allow for ourselves to stop and reflect on all the goodness in our life is very limited. Although we all live a busy lifestyle, it is important to make time during the day for gratitude.
Let me explain.
The other day I ran across some words from a wise man named Robert Emmons on why gratitude is good. This is what he wrote:
“It’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. […] “We recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. […] We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
In the last 12 months I have made a conscious effort to be mindful of all of the goodness that has been presented to me, even the little things! Months of conscious gratitude has now turned in to an unconscious habit. Each day I find myself being thankful for the people I am surrounded by, the things that I have, the goals I meet, the man who held the door for me, the birds chirping in the trees, and the list goes on! Because of this one simple intention, I feel that my life is fuller and richer than it was just one year ago.
Why is my life that much better than one year ago and what does gratitude have to do with it?
This is what I have seen come from the increase in gratitude from this girl!
- An increase in happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy a year ago as well, but this is a different kind of happiness—one that warms my soul. Pure joy. It’s hard to bring me down! I am mindful of the amazing family friendships I have as well as the awesome opportunities in front of me. I. Am. Happy.
- Reduced anxiety and stress. One year ago I had just gotten married, moved what I considered far away (5.5 hours) from my family, I didn’t have a full time job, and my husband and I were living with a family of five. (So the whole sharing a living environment wasn’t so bad, actually it was kind of nice. Pretty much the best roommates you could ever ask for! But still, not the ideal situation for anyone.) Through gratitude I began to realize how great we actually had it. I was able to work a part-time gig from home until I found a full-time job—that was amazing! Monthly drives home made the distance a little easier and I was thankful to have a vehicle that got me there. I was surrounded by amazing people who lifted me up and taught me important lessons.
- Improved health. Studies actually suggest gratitude strengthens the immune system, reduces symptoms of illness, and makes us less bothered by aches and pains—and man do I believe it! If you lived in the Midwest last winter, you will agree that it was a bit cold. Okay, like REALLY stinkin’ cold! I was healthy all year long with the exception of a mild cold or sinus infection. The fact that I felt good encouraged me to exercise more and eat better. You know the saying, “God created it. Jesus died for it. The spirit lives in it. I’d better take care of it.” Well, that summarizes it for me. You can bet that I am grateful for this body I have been given and I am taking care of it!
- Stronger relationships: Whether it was my relationship with my husband, with my family members or with my friends, all relationships were strengthened by expressing gratitude making me feel closer and more committed. I was thankful to have those people in my life that supported me, encouraged me, and inspired me. I began to find the joy in actually listening to others when they spoke. In the process, I learned more about them and more about myself.
So here’s the thing folks… You need to quit flying through life by the seat of your pants. Stop to smell the roses from time to time. Your life is a beautiful gift that was given only to you, for you. Enjoy it and be grateful! You can say thank you all you want and mind your manners, but there’s more to being grateful than going through the motions. Be mindful of all those wonderful things in your life AND acknowledge them! Take time out of your busy lives to actually stop, reflect and give thanks for what matters most. True gratitude can improve your happiness, your stress levels, your health and wellness, your relationships and your life as a whole.
Gratitude is powerful—you know that it is true, why not give it a shot!
What are you grateful for today? This week? This year? Please share and inspire us by leaving a comment below!