Gratitude attitude

He bellows in his standard greeting complete with arms open wide—“Good afternoon beautiful people of L&D”—and everybody turns to look at him and smile. Nerv is a self-confessed follower of the positive thinking paradigm which focuses on the silver lining in every cloud. This grows from his belief that we are to be thankful for another day of opportunities to better ourselves. It is no surprise that when the team faces challenges and hiccups, he remains composed, calm and collected. Having a grateful attitude helps him focus more on what can be done rather than wallow in self-defeatist thinking. This is just one of the benefits of having a thankful attitude. You go beyond the challenge and discover that problems are really opportunities for growth and success.

Studies have been conducted linking gratefulness to a plethora of benefits. Foremost among these psychologists is Dr. Robert Emmons, who wrote the best-selling book Thanks!, Gratitude Works!, and The Little Book of Gratitude. In his book Thanks!, he discovered that people who are grateful enjoy such physical benefits as having a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, better sleep, and being less weighed down by aches and pains. Other benefits include an increase in positive emotions, like joy and pleasure, and social benefits which makes you more helpful, generous, content, and outgoing, and feel less reclusive and detached. If you want to enjoy these benefits, you need to start adopting a grateful attitude. I compiled a list of things you can do to start feeling grateful.

You need to learn to say thanks to others. Being grateful for what others have done not only endears them to you, but also creates a social bond which could be the start of a friendship. A simple thank you when people hold the elevator for you, or when a friend helps you out of a jam fosters camaraderie and general feelings of goodwill. That can become the catalyst for the person to help others in return, consequently creating a domino effect for others to help others. Take the opportunity to brighten somebody’s day just by saying “thank you.”

You also need to thank yourself. More often than not, we become morose and dejected when we compare ourselves to others and focus on what we do not have. We mostly feel this in social media when we see posts of our friend’s new gadgets, destinations or adventures. This could also happen when we go to reunions and family gatherings where relatives compare and pit their kids against each other. These events create feelings of discontent, unworthiness and rejection. You can counter these feelings by comparing yourself—not with others, but with yourself several years before. When you compare what you have now to what you did not have before, you will instantly realize you have come a long way and this will make you appreciate yourself more. You need to thank yourself for all the efforts and sacrifices you did to ensure you are where you are right now. This, in turn, will help you appreciate yourself and stop comparing yourself to others.

Another way you can adopt grateful thinking is to list down at least five blessings you received for the day. It does not matter if you write them at the start or at the end of your day. The important thing is to write them down because it helps you focus and look for the good things that happened for the day. One of the things I am grateful for the past nine months are the relaxing mornings I spend just before I go to work. These mornings help me appreciate that life is worth it even if work takes a toll on me. Finding things you are grateful for prepares you for your daily tasks because it puts you in an I-can-do-it frame of mind, and increases your confidence to overcome challenges. Once you appreciate what you have, you are more courageous and fearless to face the next challenge because you understand you have been through worse and you have survived.

Words can also help you change your perspective and become grateful for what you have. I remember a story of a blind man with a cardboard sign begging for alms and people just walked by. An astute passerby saw him and took his sign and changed the blind man’s sign. People started giving more alms to him. Curious, the blind man asked a woman passing by what was written on his cardboard. The passerby read, “Such a beautiful day. Too bad I cannot even see it.” The sign helped people appreciate their sight and made it easier for them to give. Similarly, when we stop and count our blessings, we become grateful making it easier for us to be magnanimous and benevolent.

You can put together those blessings into a gratitude journal. I mentioned this in my previous column and I repeat it here. The journal will give you a boost during those times when you doubt yourself and what you can do. By reading through your gratitude journal, you give yourself a confidence boost and you will start to appreciate things that fade into the background.

Another way you can start feeling grateful is by changing a single word. James Clear in his book Atomic Habits says you can start being grateful by changing the word “have” to “get.” Statements like “I have to attend a meeting,” “I have to finish my work,” and “I have to complete this project” take on a whole new meaning when turned into “I get to finish my work,” “I get to finish my work,” and “I get to complete this project.” Notice that the burdens suddenly become opportunities. It takes a conscious effort to do this but once you get the hang of it, work does not become work but becomes the reward in itself because you see it as an opportunity to better yourself.

Having a grateful attitude is not only good for your physical, psychological and social well-being. It is also good for the people around you because your grateful attitude will help them see the good in what they do. So, go ahead and take the time to appreciate the good in your life. You just might discover your life is riddled with every good thing you need—and so much more.

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