The Discipline of Gratitude

A little while ago, I heard the words "developing a discipline of gratitude" in passing and they really struck a chord within me. The word "gratitude" is a noun defined as "the quality of being thankful" but just like anything else, if it is not combined with discipline and repetition, it does not come naturally. It is important to be cognizant of the fact that there are countless things of which to be grateful. We may not realize the day-to-day blessings that we have in our lives. A home where there is safety and security, a kitchen filled with food, clean and unlimited water available at our disposal, and good health are just a few of the things that we often take for granted. We tend to pay more attention to the things that are not going our way and end up complaining and feeling dissatisfaction. Our minds become filled with negative thoughts and this negativity seeps into everything we do and say.
Gratitude 1
Feeling sad, disappointed or upset is completely natural. These emotions should be acknowledged, accepted, and worked through. We cannot be expected to be happy and positive all the time. However, by dwelling on negativity, we do more harm than good. By acknowledging the positive aspects of situations, we are able to take attention away from the negative. Focus on what went right today instead of thinking about what "coulda, shoulda, woulda" happened. By consciously doing this, we are able to decrease anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.
The How of Happiness
I am not trying to diminish the experiences and emotions of anyone. There are many situations in which it is extremely difficult to find a "silver lining." The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or losing one's home are just some examples of distressing situations that undoubtedly turn your world upside down. However, if you dwell and obsess on the hardships that you are facing, you will be unable to move ahead. There is a saying: "Time waits for no one." It is important to take into consideration that situations are ever-changing and that surely, with every difficulty, there comes ease. Consciously acknowledge that yes, this is a tough situation, but there is still so much to be thankful for and you will be able to move forward.

Deborah Norville, Thank You Power
Once again, I want to stress the relevance of purposefully being grateful. Just like the development of any other habit, gratitude will become a habit as a result of acknowledgement and repetition. Deborah Norville, author and television personality, says in her book, Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You, “What I’ve learned is there’s a scientifically proven phenomenon that’s attached to gratitude, and that if you consciously take note of what is good in your life, quantifiable benefits happen.” Looking around, noticing all the blessings in your life and consciously being grateful, when done frequently, will then become an effortless habit that will result in numerous benefits for your mind and body.

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. and professor of Psychology, says in his book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, "We discovered scientific proof that when people regularly engage in the systematic cultivation of gratitude, they experience a variety of measurable benefits: psychological, physical, and interpersonal." Keeping a gratitude journal is a tangible way in which you can count your blessings. Studies show that keeping a gratitude journal also increases one's quality of sleep and results in more energy throughout the day. Keeping a journal can help manage stress levels as well as identify the positive aspects of your life that are frequently forgotten. Individuals who routinely express their gratitude are generally happier…not because their circumstances have changed but because they react to situations in a different manner.

In fact, at the library, patrons often request resources like those mentioned above in order to gain perspective. People from all walks of life can come in and find information that will bring positive change into their daily routines.

Often when I have a few minutes to myself, I sit with a steaming cup of coffee and just breathe. The ability to be able to breathe without pain, the ability to see the beautiful colors of the flowers outside my window, the warmth of my home, the health of my children...these may seem trivial but they are all blessings that I purposefully acknowledge and repeat in my mind. I have definitely noticed an increased sense of peace and a decrease in anxiety within myself. That does not mean my life is perfect. It helps me to realize that at this moment, I have enough and I am enough... and for that I am grateful.

—Kaneeze from the Hightstown Branch

Comments

  1. Thanks Kaneeze for such a beautiful article on Gratitude. My personal life transformed in every area with the power and regular practice of Gratitude. Now as a life coach , i help people to practice Gratitude and see the magic unfold. I have taken few sessions in west windsor library and planning to take more. Once we learn the attitude of gratitude, life becomes a blessings. I am really grateful for your beautiful share. Thank you Thank you Thank You.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the words of encouragement! I really appreciate it!

      Kaneeze

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  2. A great reminder for us all! Gratitude is definitely a lifestyle 😊

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  3. Well said Kaneeze. I am sure lot of people will read it and use the power of Gratitude. It sure works like a magic and improves the strength of any person who uses it on a daily basis. I am one of them. Thanks again.

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  4. Wonderfully written. You bring up a point that we need to hear again and again, to slow down and appreciate things in life be they big or small. Great book suggestions, too!

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