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The Benefits Of Gratitude

Giving thanks daily for what you have is powerful and life changing.

Have you ever noticed how some folks are thankful for and appreciate everything they have, while others complain about everything they don't have? What type of person are you? When you see the water in the glass, do you view it as half full or half empty? How you view the level of the glass's content gives amazing insight into your general happiness and frame of mind.

It's fun to get together with family and friends to share a wonderful meal on Thanksgiving, but it's also healthy to take time to reflect on the abundances we each have within our daily lives. Happiness and well-being are more important than status and possessions. Materialism is not happiness. That feeling of entitlement will never bring joy. Happiness is peace of mind, and all too often in this fast-paced roller coaster life, that concept is lost, especially during the holidays, the most stressful time of year.

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We go through trials every day, and it doesn't take surviving a hurricane or personal tragedy to incorporate gratitude into your day-to-day routine. The characteristics that define one who can handle adversity are the same characteristics that define who will have a happy, healthy and productive life.

Faith: The belief in something bigger than you are, whether it's God, family, a higher power or a cause.

Hope: The knowledge that no matter how bleak things are at the present, there's a belief it will get better: “The Power of Hope”.

Love: Whether an individual, family or group, feelings of love towards and from others can enrich your life in countless ways.

Gratitude: Being thankful for the things you have, rather than being bitter about what you don’t have.

So, do you regularly give thanks for the riches within your life? If not, all is not lost. Gratitude is something that can be learned, practiced and developed, yielding a sense of well-being, optimism and happiness. What's more, when children see a thankful parent, they are more likely to become thankful children.

Starting today, implement these suggestions into your daily life:

• Each morning before you get out of bed, think of the things within your life that you're grateful for -- it could be the spouse by your side, the child in the next room, the pet in the kitchen. It could be the sun shining through the window, the legs you stand on or the eyes you use to view the world. Do this every single morning, making it a ritual. I guarantee, if you do this you will start your morning off on a positive note and this sets the standard for a positive day.

• We all have bad days because life is not perfect. Bad things happen all the time. When life gives you a blow, rather than ruminating on your bad luck, take the time to write down the current things you're grateful for. Seeing these in writing, and even the act of writing, can be calming and cathartic.

• Be grateful for life's challenges because it's those very challenges that serve as lessons and allow us to grow. View each challenge as a way to learn and build a better life.

• Be thankful for what you have. Envy will suck the life out of you. Instead of wishing you had the mansion, the hired help, the fancy sports car or the designer clothes, give thanks for what you do have. Consumerism is not the path to happiness. There will always be those who have more, just like there will always be others who have less. Be grateful that you have enough.

• Finally, help others. Every time you see someone less fortunate think, “There but for the grace of God go I” and lend a hand, even if it’s only a smile and a word of encouragement. You don’t have to be religious to do this; it’s merely an acknowledgement that you have it better than many.

So, this Thanksgiving when you feel the need to reflect on the hard economic times, the high unemployment rate and all the problems we are sharing, stop. Turn your attention instead to what you have faith in, who you love, who loves you, and your hopes for the future. Most importantly, take the time to acknowledge with gratitude all the good things you do have in your life.

Life is a gift. Freedom is a gift. Employment is a gift. Friends and loved ones are gifts. Your very breath at this moment is a gift. Viewing life with grateful eyes gives insight that life owes you nothing, allowing gratitude to work its humbling magic. Give thanks daily, and Happy Thanksgiving to all.

 

Dale Archer, M.D., is a clinical psychiatrist and author of The New York Times bestseller, Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional.

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