Published on August 16th, 2019 | by Nancy F. Clark0
How To Increase Your Gratitude, While Reducing Your Stress
by Deborah Perdue—
This article also appeared on Forbes WomensMedia.
Whenever I nosedive into feeling worried or harried or completely stressed out, especially at work, I have a surefire method to counteract these undesirable feelings. It works every time! It can be hard to start—I might tell myself I don’t have enough time, or it won’t work, but those are just feeble excuses. When I actually sit down to begin the following practice, it always starts helping my mood improve and become more positive. Research has proven, without a doubt, that if we start focusing on what is right, what feels good to us, what there is to be grateful for, we can and will shift into more happiness, peace and even better health.
I know it sounds almost too good to be true, but it has worked for me over and over again, and in this article, I share my own Top Ten list. And I invite you to try it too.
I call this tool my Grand List of Gratitude. Start a list of everything and everyone you are grateful for. This list can be long, and even ongoing.
As I write my list, I usually start with being grateful for my family and the love in my life. Studies have proven that we humans inherently need love, connection with others and community to flourish. Since this is true, I list all the people starting with my wonderful husband, the gift of my great adult stepchildren, darling grandkids, my beloved sisters, and my parents who are now deceased. Family is such a given in most people’s lives, and in my own, I am grateful for the loved ones who are so close to me. I even give thanks for my first husband! Sure, we ended up divorcing, but because of that process, I met someone more compatible—and came out a stronger and more independent woman.
These are the chosen family in my life who I treasure. I am part of a spiritual community, and we all support and love each other. Other people to be thankful for could be business associates, or a best friend from childhood.
How it works automatically is a miracle! I am thankful for my strong, healthy body which sees, hears, touches, feels, and smells. Our bodies are such an intricate system, and I marvel at how well mine works.
The list here could be infinite. I give thanks for all parts of nature—the seasons bringing change—the beauty of rivers, trees, lakes and ocean. All the variety of animals. All the flowers that bloom, whether they’re wildflowers, roses, wisteria—or name your particular favorite! I know every person can find something in nature to admire. If you live in the city, you can be grateful for a beautiful park, or your own container garden. Everyone often gets to see a sunrise, a sunset, cumulus or storm clouds and the beautiful night skies. Nature is such a gift.
I happen to be a freelance book designer, and I so enjoy the variety of books and authors I work for, as well as the freedom it affords me. You may be working for a corporation or a small business. Friends from work could be on your list, so could the perks of benefits and holidays you receive—and if you’re really lucky, you love your meaningful work and can be grateful for that.
In my list, I must include my furry friends. I am so grateful for our pets’ unconditional love and joy, and how they are always in the now. This is something we should try to emulate.
I truly believe every single person is creative in their own way. List what you are gifted with as a person. In my case, I am grateful for the art I enjoy doing—pastels and photography, and my writing skills. But it could be your affinity for numbers, your way with people, serving others or whatever it might be for you.
I am grateful for my determination, my caring heart, my sensitivity, my intuition and my natural optimism. I know each person has their own unique and special list.
Modern Day Life
We can be thankful we have shelter, running water, electricity and of course technology. The internet in particular has helped the whole world be connected in seconds. Quite amazing.
Yes, this is a valuable area of our lives to consider. I have found that all mistakes I’ve made have brought me to where I am today. Things I have been disappointed about—or failed at—made me stronger and I have used these lessons to become a better person.
Your list can be one word— or even a paragraph—for each thing that makes you grateful. The next time you feel down, give making a Grand List of Gratitude a try. I absolutely promise you will raise your spirits. And I honestly believe with all my heart we can never run out of things to add to our list. Life is so abundant. Start by making a list of 5 things, 10 things, 25 things or even try 100! You’ll probably find it hard to stop. And I know you’ll automatically feel happier and more peaceful.
Article photo by iStock-Steve Debenport