Get Off Your Ass and Be Grateful!

Get Off Your Ass and Be Grateful!

Get Off Your Ass and Be Grateful!

I was getting ready to leave the house for an early meeting. I was being interviewed by a local media outlet and was, of course, running late. Seconds before I walked out the door, my son Evan, then 12-years-old, had a volcanic meltdown. I don’t even remember what set him off. My husband Jay had to hold him down while he scratched, bit, and flailed around. I ended up calling the interviewer to reschedule. All I wanted to do was cry.

Thankfully, she was very understanding. We met a week later at a local Starbucks. Some of the questions were the typical “Tell me about your life” variety, but some were questions I had never been asked…including her very last one:

If you had 30 seconds to make a speech to the world, what would your message be?

I felt incredible pressure to come up with something profound, but nothing profound came to mind. Instead, I shared one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my journey of raising two children, one with mental illness. I said, “You find what you look for. Start looking for the right things, and you’re more likely to find them…”

Then without giving it an inch of thought, I blurted out, “Basically, get off your ass and be grateful!”

Truth is, that one sentence basically sums up my life philosophy.

Having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier.

In a world where emotions aren’t really taught in school, full of consumerism and competition, we’re constantly made to feel we are lacking and that we need to strive for more in order to achieve “true” happiness. But gratitude actually affects the brain at a neurological level. Being grateful increases the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin. In fact, just searching for things to be grateful for has this effect. Practicing gratitude has also been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol by 23%, and increase optimism by 5-15%.

This is something science is just starting to grasp as well. According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, “having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier. When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive and less resistant.”

During the month of November and over the Thanksgiving holiday, there is no better time to make gratitude a part of your daily life. Start your journey for cultivating gratitude (and strengthening your resilience and well-being) today with these 4 strategies.

Get Started

#1 – Keep a Gratitude Journal

Rather than quantity, focus on quality. Each day write down 3-5 things for which you feel grateful. Explain each one. Many people opt to do this first thing in the morning to provide a positive start to the day. Rather than simply listing your family or friends, get specific and intentional about what you are truly grateful for. You can be grateful for a good hair day, enough food to feed your family, or having an air conditioner on a hot day.

#2 Give Back

When we come from a place of abundance, we want to do for others. Hold the door, pay for coffee, or simply smile. A little goes a long way. Studies have quantitatively proven that doing for others benefits us emotionally and physically. Volunteer or find ways to give back to your community this time of year. It will make you happier and healthier. Make yourself available and provide any support possible for those in need.

#3 – Practice Mindful Gratitude

Sit silently for 5-10 minutes. Focus on your breathing. As your mind wanders (which it will), gently bring your focus back to your breath. Think about someone or something for which you are grateful, and let your mind do its magic. Just bring yourself back to gratitude and breathing. I know, it sounds crazy, but it works.

#4 – Create a Gratitude Jar

Every time you think of something for which to be grateful, write it down and put the paper in the jar. Over time, that becomes quite the collection of gratitude. You still have time to participate in our Gratitude Challenge! You could win a $250 gift card or donation to a charity of your choice just by telling us what your grateful for. Get in touch…DM us on Facebook or Instagram, tweet us, or send us an email!

As we were wrapping up the interview, I was asked if there is a special quote or song lyric that really resonates with me. In my TEDxTalk, I quoted a lyric from Ray Wylie Hubbard, and this remains one of my favorite ways to look at life. He sings:

The days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, well, I have really good days.

Choose to be purposeful about your daily practices and create the habits that support the life you want. Be kind to yourself, savor delicious moments, and practice gratitude. I am incredibly grateful for you. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Anne

Anne Grady is a Speaker, Author, and #TruthBomb Dropper.

Anne shares practical strategies that can be applied both personally and professionally to improve relationships, navigate change, and triumph over adversity. And she’ll make you laugh while she does it. Anne is a two time TEDx speaker, and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fast Company and Inc. magazines, CNN, ESPN, and FOX Business. She is the best selling author of 52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work and Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience and Triumph.

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