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OTHER ITA SITES:
Attitudes and Gratitude
“Gratitude turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie
Once with a group of women, we were discussing why it is that some children who seem to “have it all” are pleasant and friendly while others become spoiled. After sharing our stories, we drew the conclusion that the difference rests in the attitude and teachings of the parents. Some children “expect” to have certain things, and they soon become spoiled and unwavering. Other children remain thankful and appreciative.
Think of adults you know that fit these descriptions. Whom do you know who has a chip on their shoulder or feels the world owes them something? Whom do you know who greets each discovery with appreciation? It is easy to guess who is happier and more fulfilled.
Developing a thankful attitude goes a long way toward developing a more resilient and appreciative self. Here are a few ideas for spreading the attitude of gratitude:
• Think about the whole process. When you receive anything, be it a child’s drawing or an expensive purchased gift, focus on how much time, effort, and thought went into the gift. Taking the time to realize how much work, caring, and thought a person has given you, is a wonderful way to deepen your appreciation of both the giver and the gift.
• Realize each day is a gift. There are so many things that we take for granted. Many times we don’t realize how much we actually take for granted until tragedy strikes. For example, I always enjoyed my brother and never imagined we would lose him at age 27. It wasn’t until after this tragedy that I learned each day and each moment we have is a precious gift. Don’t be wasteful or unappreciative of these moments.
• Lower your expectations. I knew a woman who felt that she had such a series of bad luck that the world surely owed her something. I couldn’t stand being around her; she complained about everything. If it rained, it seemed the sky was out to get her. When we quit expecting the world (or people) to give us things, we can become more focused on enjoying the gifts that do come our way.
Sarah Ban Breathnach in her best-selling book, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, advocates the use of a gratitude journal. She cites this as “a tool that could change the quality of your life beyond belief.” I completely agree. The premise of the gratitude journal is to record five things that you are grateful for each day. Some days you might have to be creative to find five. Other days you might have ten or twenty! Value the little things. Value the person who sincerely smiled and asked how you were at the grocery store checkout. Value the soft touch of a child’s hand on your shoulder. Value a new song that you hear on the radio.
Create your own gratitude journal and list five things that you are grateful for each evening. Notice how this deepens your appreciation for life and helps to maintain a positive outlook. You may also want to start a “Family Gratitude Journal” where each night you think of five things that you are grateful for as a family.
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