How important is gratitude?

A note from one of my mentors:
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
— Abraham Lincoln
Throughout our childhood our parents taught us to say ‘thank you’ and it became a habit – something we say automatically, along with ‘please’. And because of this we have forgotten just how important gratitude is and how essential it is in leading fulfilled lives.
So why is gratitude important?
Just for a minute, think of all the things you are grateful for, such as, loving friends, partners and family, pets who love you unconditionally, good health, great holidays you’ve had, as well as everyday items such as a comfortable home, electricity, TV, fridge, and clean water when you turn on the tap.
The list, in fact, could go on and on. So how does that make you feel when you think of all these things? Doesn’t it make you feel good?
Now focus on events that have made you unhappy or dissatisfied – it’s raining, the car won’t start, a work colleague irritates you, you have a head cold. You start to feel grumpy and resentful, and that is something that certainly does not feel good – in fact it feels bad!
So which would you prefer? To feel good? Or to feel bad?
It’s a straightforward choice and we have the ability to choose how we feel. But for most of us, it just doesn’t seem as easy as that – isn’t the world out to get us? Well, no, it isn’t actually, it’s just our perception of how things are.
Let me give you an example: it’s a wet, rainy day, and immediately most people will start to complain, tell everyone who will listen what a miserable day it is, with the result that they end up feeling miserable themselves.
But look at it another way and despite wet clothes and hair, both will dry perfectly well and no lasting harm has been done. And in addition to this, because of rain, we not only live in a green and beautiful landscape, we are able to grow an abundance of fruit and vegetables.
There really is no obvious reason for feeling miserable – in fact there is a great deal to be grateful for. It’s all to do with how we perceive things.
We can alter our perceptions – our view of how the world is and how things affect us. And when we do that, then we can start to feel gratitude and as a consequence, start to feel good!
So here are a few suggestions to help you get started: Continue reading “How important is gratitude?”