GRATITUDE – ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISIONS YOU WILL EVER MAKE
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© June 2014, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
If you want to be mentally stable, balanced and happy, begin with gratitude. An attitude of gratitude is an appreciative state. You appreciate what you have, rather than focus on or even being aware of what you may be lacking. Another word for this is thankful. Be thankful for what you have, no matter how little it appears to be.
Gratitude is more than this, however. It is also a desire to help, to assist, to be of service, to be part of the solution to problems, rather than be a spectator, a complainer, or a loafer.
Gratitude is even more than this. Gratitude has to do with your approach to life. Are you grateful for life, or are you trying to “make it on your own”, competing with others, fighting to maintain your job, your turf, your friends and your little place in the world. In other words, gratitude is about getting out of the self and becoming part of something bigger.
In this sense, gratitude is about loving and caring about others, rather than focusing on yourself.
Finally, you will find that gratitude is ultimately a decision about how you will look at and think about events, people and all situations. In other words, it is a decision, first. Later, you will feel grateful, but at first it must be a decision, like a path that you set out upon and decide you will follow, and just keep on it, no matter what. It is the path that leads to deep joy and happiness. This, in a nutshell, is what gratitude is about.
GRATITUDE IS ABOUT OUR CONNECTION WITH EACH OTHER
Gratitude has something to do with realizing that we are all one, at some level, and the connection is so deep that if we will just focus on our connection, rather than how we are different, separate and alone, we will feel and do better.
Gratitude is difficult, in fact, if you feel disconnected from others, alienated, and not connected.
PRAYER CAN HELP YOU REALIZE YOU ARE ALWAYS CONNECTED AND SHOULD THEREFORE ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL
Many prayers begin with the words “We thank you”. This is the best expression of gratitude. It is said that the angels continuously praise God, and we should do the same. This, too, is an expression of gratitude, as all of life is really a gift, even the hardships, the illnesses, the accidents, the broken marriages and all the rest.
MAKE A GRATEFUL LIST EVERY SINGLE DAY
The way to practice gratitude is to make lists of all the things you are grateful for, then read it and add to it each day. Think about it when you wake up in the morning, for example, and when you are going to bed, or at night if you cannot sleep. Any time of the day, think about it and think of more things for which you are grateful. It may seem strange, but it works if you do it.
Realize that, at first, the mind is not used to thinking this way. Instead, it has focused on its lacks, its anger, its unhappiness, and often its loneliness and lack of appreciation. So this will be new and different, and perhaps uncomfortable for your mind. Just persist. If you do, making your gratitude list will become a new habit that will serve you more than you can ever imagine.
The list can include almost anything. You can be grateful for your shoes, your ideas, that you are not being eaten by a tiger, that you do not live somewhere freezing cold or boiling hot, and so forth. Try to have as much fun with it as you can, and you will think of literally hundreds of things to be grateful for each day.
GRATITUDE AND GRACE
These words are related. Gratitude is appreciation, in general. Grace is the unearned and undeserved love of the Creator for you. You can learn to be thankful for this in every moment, and to be a gracious or grace-filled and gratitude-filled person. This can carry you far in your journey toward peace and health.
ULTIMATELY, GRATITUDE IS A DECISION
This means that in the end, an attitude of gratitude about all things in life is a way of looking at life upon which you must decide and insist. It is a choice, in other words. One can be angry, unhappy or upset much of the time, as there is always someone or something about which to be upset.
However, one can also choose for gratitude, as there is always something for which you can be grateful. This is very important to understand. So what do you choose? Which sounds like more fun and a more enjoyable way to live?