Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Art Of Living Your Life With Gratitude

Next week November 1st comes around, and we all start thinking of the holidays, the first of which is Thanksgiving. Of course that is a time when we are supposed to give thanks. But do we? Or do we look at this holiday only as a time to stuff our faces, sit around and watch football, and hang out with family? There's nothing wrong with that, and I'll probably do a little of each. But, are we thankful? Really Thankful?

You'd be surprised at the benefits of living a life of gratefulness. It changes your whole physiology (your insides). Studies have shown that practicing gratefulness has a whole myriad of health benefits. It can literally add years to your life, and life to your years.

There are several ways to start living this style of life. I teach my patients these when they are having issues with depression or with anxiety. One would be to buy a small notebook that you keep with you. You can use this as your gratefulness journal. You can either carry it with you and write in it as the day goes by about what your grateful for, or you can have a specific time every day that you sit down to use it. Every day, your task is to write down 5 things you are grateful for. Now, the goal is not just to create a list of things you are thankful for, but to experience exactly why you are thankful. The goal is to shift our focus from all that is not quite right in our life, to the blessings we already have.  It's easy to find the bad in life, anyone can do that.  But it takes time and effort to be truly grateful.  So, how DO we move from making a list to experiencing true gratefulness? Read on!

When you pick something you are thankful for, don't just write it down. Instead, write it down, then write a brief sentence or two as to WHY you are grateful. For instance, if I were to write down I am grateful for my wife, I'd might say the following: "I am grateful for my wife because she is beautiful inside and out, and I could not ask for a better mom for my kids. I enjoyed sitting with her by the fire pit and just shooting the breeze last night". That is a real example that I used recently.  When you do it this way, you will not just state what you are blessed with, you will re-experience it.  That is what will change your physiology.

You can do that once a day and list 5 things, or you can go through the day and write things down as they come to you or you experience them. Or you can do a combination of the two where you spend 5 minutes writing in your journal daily, but you also keep it with you so you can write down other things that you might experience throughout the day. If you're ever feeling down, stressed, depressed or frustrated, take it out and read through some of the entries.

Lastly, every night before you fall asleep, think on those things again. The bible tells us in Phillipians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." So every night review your day and focus on those things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable etc and be thankful for them. It's a great way to drift off to sleep.

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