On Friday, I had the privilege of speaking at the Texas Parent to Parent Annual Conference in San Marcos. The entire conference is dedicated to providing support and information to families of children with disabilities, chronic illness and special health care needs. I was able to connect with so many amazing people who continue to overcome challenges that go beyond what anyone should have to deal with.
I realized after I left the conference that there is something I’ve been missing. Something that is so simple, yet powerful enough to change my life. I’ve been missing gratitude. How much time in our day is spent complaining (in our mind or in our words) about what we have, don’t have, want, can’t get or get too much of? I know for me, it is entirely too much. We only have a certain amount of physical and emotional energy to spend each day. How much of it are you wasting on negative thoughts, people and circumstances?
The Secret started as a book and turned into a movement. The philosophy is that we create our own reality, and that if we want a great one, we first have to appreciate what we have. Here are 5 ways to get an attitude of gratitude:
1. Keep a gratitude journal. Each day when you wake up, write down 5 things you are grateful for. It might be that you had a bed to sleep in or air conditioning to keep you cool. It could be that you got to wake up! When you go to sleep, write down 5 things you are grateful for that happened during your day. Try to really think about your day and be specific.
2. Say “thank you” at every opportunity. If someone holds a door for you or does something nice, rather than the quick nod of the head, turn to them and with sincerity, say “thank you”.
3. Appreciate the little things. Make a list of the little things that are important to you and can make a difference in your mood. Whether it is drinking a cup of coffee from your favorite cup or reading before you go to sleep, find ways to incorporate these into your daily routine and stop to appreciate them when they happen.
4. Let the people you care about know they are important to you. Whether it’s a quick email, sticky note or hug, something so simple makes all the difference. Make it a goal to reach out to one or two people each week. Maintaining relationships takes work, but the rewards are endless. “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward
5. Erase “but”. It’s easy to say, I’m grateful for these clothes, but I sure would like new ones. Or, I’m blessed to have my family, but they sure are crazy (Lord knows this applies to most of us!). Our mind doesn’t hear the word “but”, it just hears “I want new clothes” or “my family is crazy”. While it might seem insignificant, this is a big step that most people miss. We believe what we tell ourselves.
We tend to find what we’re looking for.
Check it out…
If you are looking for all of the reasons your life stinks right now, buy a nose plug cause it’s gonna keep on stinking. If you take time to express appreciation, you will find more of those things. Denis Waitley was right on the mark when he said, “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”