Grumpy? No. Not me. Negative? Are you kidding?
I’m just a realist and realists are often misunderstood? We are not critical. We are just super observant. And, perhaps, we don’t always like what we observe. And say so. Ooops!
Anticipating the worst was, for me, a self protective measure. If something negative happened, I reasoned, I would be prepared. No surprises for me! Or so I thought. How dreary.
I wanted joy but I didn’t know how to get there. Joy seemed elusive and, to be frank, a bit frivolous.
Busy business women who are straddling the two worlds of work and home may adopt similar measures to regulate the disappointing things that come our way. But constant vigilance has it’s costs. Anxiety. Poor sleep. Negativity.
I was ready for a personal change.
C.S. Lewis has said that “Gratitude is the pathway to joy.”
What I know is this: I can’t make myself be joyful … but I can make myself be grateful.
And so I began to cultivate the gratitude habit.
Determined to be intentional about looking for the positive in life, I began these 5 steps:
- Pay Attention – God is constantly strewing our paths with things to delight us.
- Expect to find treats and treasures every day. The smell of freshly baked bread. Humming birds at the feeder. Hot water on demand. A phone call from a friend. A tiny flower growing up through a crack in the asphalt.
- Notice the things that already pleased me and thank Him for them. Stop taking the good for granted.
- Remember to store the good things in my brain as the day went on. That began to crowd out the bad things that automatically came.
- Record – Write it down. This made it real and permanent.
I bought an inexpensive spiral notebook and put it on my night stand. Every night when I go to bed, before my time of reading, I pick up my Gratitude Journal and ponder the day past.
At the top of the page I enter the date and then write, “I am grateful for ….” and number the lines down 1,2,3. I sit quietly until I recall three things — great or small — for which I am grateful that day.
Every day has become a scavenger hunt for God’s blessings and surprises. Keeping a gratitude journal makes the search intentional. Expect God’s blessings to be there. Notice them. Remember them. Record them. The more you see the more you will find.
As I trained myself to become more grateful – I did indeed become more joyful.
Studies on the Science of Happiness have found that people who keep a gratitude list:
- Have a relative absence of stress and depression. (Woods et al., 2008)
- Make progress towards important personal goals. (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)
- Report higher levels of determination and energy. (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)
- Feel closer in their relationships. (Algoe and Haidy, 2009)
- Increase their happiness by 25%. (McCullough et al., 2002)
Who wouldn’t want a quarter more happiness?
Just by noting 3 gratitudes a day.
It is easy to wander, or barrel, through life one day after another. Make your days count for something. Make them intentionally grateful, joyful and blessed.
Are you ready to draw closer to God in a new way? Authors Suzanne Niles and Wendy Simpson Little can help you go deeper in your faith than ever before!
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