October 30, 2012

More on Gratitude

It's easy, too easy, to get wrapped up into what I don't have. To get wrapped up in what I can't do, can't have, don't have time for, and all those other things that can't be summed up into two words: "not enough

But, with a little bit of conscious effort, it's just as easy to remember what I do have. What I can do. What I do have time for. What is achievable. And when I can do more than remember those things, but appriciate them, that's being grateful.

It's really hard, though, to be grateful, to appriciate the sunshine or a good cup of coffee, when there isn't enough money to pay the bills. The sunshine and the coffee don't make it any better, don't make it any easier. Lately I've been asking myself why I even bother.

Don't be dismissive about this, now. It's an important question. Knowing the why helps you persevere even when it's hard.

So why? Why is it important to be grateful? Why should I be grateful for something when there's all this other stuff sowing malcontent?

Well, the first answer is the most obvious. Would you rather be smiling about how nice the warm morning sunlight feels, or agonizing about the sink full of dirty dishes? Well, smiling about the sunshine makes you feel happy, which would energize you, so you could do the dishes and enjoy it. But agonizing about the dishes would make you feel depressed and angry, which would zap all your energy away and accomplish nothing while making you miserable. The logical choice would be to choose gratitude.

In her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen talks about the benefits of gratitude: "...studies show that consistently grateful people are happier and more satisfied with their lives; they even feel more physically healthy and spend more time exercising. Gratitude brings freedom from envy because when you're grateful for what you have, you're not consumed with wanting something different or something more. That, in turn, makes it easier to live within your means and also be generous to others. Gratitude fosters forbearance - it's harder to feel dissapointed with someone when you're feeling grateful toward him or her. Gratitude also connects you to the natural world, because one of the easiest things to feel grateful for is the beauty of nature."

Again, I think I'd prefer being grateful.

What do you think? Is it better to be grateful, or is it unrealistic and not worth it?

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