My dad was a mail carrier (and WWII Vet!), and my mom stayed home and raised 6 kids, numerous types of livestock, and a garden. We didn’t have a lot and I spent much of my time focusing on what I didn’t have, and set my sights on attaining everything I wanted.
One day I came upon an essay by Robert Emmons, the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, “Why Gratitude is Good.” Emmons argues gratitude has two components: the affirmation that there are good things in the world, and recognizing that the sources of this goodness are outside ourselves. Reading Emmon’s essay, I realized this focus on my have nots was making me a miserable person. I was devastated when I didn’t reach a goal. And, when I did attain something I thought I desperately needed, I failed to realize how much support I had received from others.
I decided to work on improving my gratitude. Instead of only reacting to good things that happened to me, I wanted to start bringing gratitude into my everyday experiences; good or bad. Some people have naturally grateful dispositions. But gratitude is a skill anyone can develop with a little practice. I would like to share a few things that work for me:
Gratitude means being thankful, counting your blessings, and seeing everything as a gift. I, for one, tend to take the everyday things for granted. Like coming home to a house, having food to make dinner, and warm showers in the morning.
· If I close my eyes and try to imagine not having these comforts, and then imagine getting each one back, I feel grateful.
· I started keeping a gratitude journal. Once, when I was complaining about a gift I received, my friend quickly put me in my place, “When you receive a gift, consider how someone intentionally tried to bring goodness into your life! Someone took time to think about you and wants to make you happy.” Now, I spend a few minutes each night writing at least three good things that happened, how I felt, and if I expressed gratitude.
· I have a charm bracelet my mother in law gave me after she visited Rome. The bracelet has charms representing my family members. Every time I see that bracelet, I remember to be grateful for all the people in my life who have been there through every storm, supporting my crazy ideas, and applauding every good thing I’ve ever done.
My advice on How to Have a Grateful Heart? Bring gratitude with you everywhere you go. See the good in every situation, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Master of Gratitude!
Thanks for listening 🙂
~ Joanna Mueller