Thursday, February 2, 2012

An attitude of gratitude.

So I have really been thinking about the idea of happiness lately. Am I really happy? Sure I'm happy that my husband cleaned up the dishes last night and that Dunc finally slept through the night, but really.. is that all it is about? Then I read that  researchers believe that showing gratitude is the single most effective way to to increase happiness. And who couldn't use a little more happiness in their life? I know I could! So that got me thinking about the whole concept of gratitude--I ended up creating a doodle web (see below) as I thought about the whole idea. Could it really be this easy? This just called out "experiment time" .... hmmmm.

My gratitude mind map/doodle. It's scary sometimes where my mind goes....

Before I started, I had to figure out just exactly what gratitude is. I'm a teacher so I did what I tell my students to do all the time--"look it up".. According to Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary, the word gratitude comes from the Latin words: gratia (meaning favor, charm, and thanks) and gratus (meaning pleasing and grateful). In easy English--it's expressing thanks for gifts we have received.

Back to my experiment. Time to show my gratitude. I've started off slow, thanking my husband for picking up his clothes (which really does mean a lot to me since it drives me nuts when he leaves them all around the house), including in my prayers my gratitude for the gifts that I do have (a home, both Jim and I having jobs we love, a wonderful family), sending a thank you note to a friend just for being my friend,  and even going as far as calling up my mom to thank her for all the baby/toddler and how to handle sickness advice she has given me in the last few months. This was important to me since it feels like I am calling her at least twice a week with questions. And do you know what--it is working! I am finding that by sharing my gratitude, it makes me feel good and the one I share with happy... and when they are happy, they share their happiness with me too. (Or in the case of my husband, it makes him more inclined to keep picking up his clothes, which REALLY makes me happy!) It's like a big circle and all I know is I want to keep it going.

So, what does this mean for you and me? Simple... If someone has been kind, thank him or her... today. Sure, you can wait and buy that person dinner next week, but how about writing an e-mail this afternoon or leaving a voice-mail message telling them how much you appreciate the kind words or deeds? When we show our gratitude, it's a way of sharing our joy with that person. It strengthens not only our faith and happiness, but theirs too. And who knows, you might just remind them to show their gratitude, too.

Start today and  make a commitment to show your gratitude by sharing it with others whenever you have the opportunity. Find a way to demonstrate your gratitude to the universe. Feed the birds! Pick up trash or volunteer your time.  Action gives life to ideas. When we start to look for ways to show our gratitude, we will find more and more to be grateful for.

Oh, and by the way... thank you so much for taking the time to read this as I start my blogging journey--it really does mean a lot to me. :)

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