Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Be Grateful, Be Happy

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It 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.” ― Melody Beattie

Chatting with my brother this weekend, he was bemoaning the state of the economy and the general sentiment that it seems we work paycheck to paycheck just to pay bills. I nodded my head in agreement, but quickly reminded him that at least we have that paycheck to paycheck coming in. While I might not be going away for vacation this summer, I’m mindful of the fact that I’m still better off than the man or woman who recently got laid off or who’s been unemployed for months, and I'm grateful. I’m grateful for my job, for the good health that permits me to work, for the roof over my head and the warm bed to sleep in, and I’m grateful for the love of my family and friends who lighten my daily load and bring me so much joy. Gratitude is the key to a life filled with peace and happiness, instead of anxiety and resentment. There will always be someone who has more, but a fact just as easy to remember is that there will always be someone who has less. Count your blessing and let gratitude make what you have enough.

In an article by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, entitled “Why Gratitude is Good”, Dr. Emmons references a study of more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, which found that people who practice gratitude consistently have lower blood pressure, feel less lonely and isolated, and are more optimistic and happy, among countless other physical, psychological and social benefits.

Each day we make lists of bills to pay, things to do and errands to run, today instead make a list of all the blessings, big and small, that touch your life and take a moment to send a big THANK YOU out into the ether or to God or to whichever divine being you believe in. Be grateful for the big things but don’t overlook the little ones. Each day write down in a journal or even on a post-it note all the good things that happened that day; maybe you didn’t hit traffic in your morning commute, or you got the last piece of pie, or someone gave you a compliment. If it brought a smile to your face, if it lightened your step, then it’s not inconsequential. Remember, gratitude is the best attitude.