Friday, July 24, 2015

Flex those gratitude muscles

Gratitude includes counting our blessings and mentally (or in writing) listing those things for which we're thankful.

But it can also include a take-away exercise. Sometimes it's so easy to take people and things for granted. We don't think about how much we would miss them until they're gone. Sometimes it's things people do—even those things that we might find irritating. For example, I'll never forget when a friend of mine told me that it used to drive her crazy when her husband put dirty handprints on their back door after he'd been working in the garden or on the car. She was always cleaning off that back door, she said. And after he died a few years ago, she told me that she'd give anything to have those dirty marks on her back door again!

So here's the exercise: Imagine that something you value (or even something irritating like my friend's dirty handprints) is gone. Think of what you would feel. Then use that experience of imagining to fuel your gratitude for whatever you thought about losing. It's so true that we don't always recognize the value of something until we no longer have it. Perhaps you complain regularly about your job. So how would you feel if you lost it tomorrow? That might even help you look for the positives and reframe things a bit.

There are many ways to build up our gratitude muscles. What do you do to keep gratitude flowing?

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