Brenda - posted on 12/30/2010 ( 1 mom has responded )
Life is hard. Each day brings with it many challenges that could elicit whining and self-pity. But those who have gained wisdom from life realize that whining and self-pity offer no help for any situation. What does offer help is gratitude. Learning to be grateful for what you have offers many benefits for your mental health.
The Law of Attraction
The Law of Attraction may sound very new age but it really isn't. The idea is that what you put out into the universe will come back around and be what you attract and therefore receive. While that sounds a little out there consider this. When you start complaining about something do the people around you typically start complaining about their lives too,or do they try to point out the good in the situation? More often than not, when one person starts complaining, others quickly follow. And in the end no one feels better. The way to work the Law of Attraction is really to follow the golden rule—do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Therefore, if you change your thought process to focus on being grateful for the good instead of lamenting the bad, you will draw more goodness into your life.
Self Fulfilling Prophecies
A self-fulfilling prophecy is when you really think something will happen and then subconsciously you make it happen. This is how gratitude can work for you and a mentality of complaining and misery can work against you. If you expect to have a lousy day, you probably will. But by being grateful for things as your day goes on, and letting go of minor irritations, will build a sense of happiness and you will consciously remember having a good day, which means you actually did have a good day.
It's God's Will
Gratitude often comes a bit easier to those with stronger religious convictions. It is easier to be grateful for difficult situations when you believe that someone put you there for a reason. Whether you see the religious angle to not, gratitude goes hand in hand with a belief that everything happens for a reason. In the very least you can focus on what you can learn from each situation. You then have an opportunity to be grateful for the lesson you learned.
The Pleasure Principle
Obviously offering gratitude to others can be expected to make them feel better. But emerging research shows that it will make you feel better too. As reported on-line in the journal Psychological Science, expression gratitude can strengthen relationships and create a cooperation that benefits both parties moving forward. That cooperation in turn creates more gratitude and the positive cycle continues.
For those whose outlook is so dour that being grateful and optimistic seems too difficult consider approaching it this way. It could always be worse, so be grateful that it isn't. There is a parable about a traveler who asks to stay at a stranger's home. The stranger graciously offers room in his stable to the traveler only to find the next morning that his cow is dead. He asks the traveler how could you? The host only sees the bad in this situation and nothing else. The traveler then explains that during the night the grim reaper came for the host's wife, and the traveler intervened and offered the cow instead. This is a really strong story that points out that there is gratitude to be had in every situation.
Train Your Brain
Train your brain to always look for the best in each situation. In the beginning negative thoughts will still originate. But take the time to recognize them and play a game almost like what you would play with a child. Take the bad and challenge yourself to recognize the good, even if it is a stretch. After awhile this thought process will become natural and gratitude will become a normal part of your thinking.
There are many clichés that explain the power of gratitude. And while cliché's are, well cliché, they have been passed down through the years mostly because they tend to be true. Whether you consider the idea that you reap what you sow, or every cloud has a silver lining, gratitude is an easy change to your perspective that will offer many positive rewards to your outlook on life.