Did you know that most research shows that we have about three times as many positive experiences in our lives than negative ones? It seems difficult to imagine, especially with everything that’s going on right now with COVID-19 and other global issues that drag us down. But it’s true. And yet, we tend to always focus on the negative. You do it. I do it. We all do it. But why? Many would say it’s because we have not created a culture of appreciation and gratitude in our life.
Instead of focusing on all the bad things, we should be scanning our world for what is going good and make a habit of being a little more grateful than we usually are. Just consider all the things you should have gratitude for:
- You have a roof over your head right now.
- You have a bed to sleep in tonight.
- When you get up to go to work, you have clothes in your closet.
- You have supportive people in your life.
- God willing, you have your health and food to eat.
- You can smile, and someone can smile at you.
- You were able to make coffee this morning (maybe that should be No. 1 on this list).
Gratitude is easy. It just depends on where you place your attention
According to Brené Brown, if there is gratitude, joy follows. Joy is a feeling of goodness deep down in your soul, a “fruit of the Spirit.” Being joyful comes from an active practice of gratitude.
Basically, what we are saying is that having more gratitude in your life is your choice. You can focus on what is missing in your life, or what is constantly going wrong in your bubble. Or – you can instead focus on what you do have. You can focus on what you’ve gained rather than what you’ve lost. And in some cases, if you’re super mindful of having more joy and gratitude, you can achieve what is known as paradoxical gratitude — finding gratitude even in the circumstance and situations you wish didn’t exist your life.
Negative circumstance example:
My car keeps breaking down, causing problems with my getting to work on time.
My car keeps breaking down. But thankfully, I can still afford to pay for a mechanic to fix it.
Negative circumstance example:
I just lost a really good friend because of all this mess.
I may have lost one relationship, but I am grateful for those who supported me during this loss.
When we are faced with a negative circumstance or situation in our lives, a new door or opportunity often presents itself — a silver lining that we never expected. And it makes us realize just how much we can be grateful for.
“Pray for what you already have in your life, and you’ll never be disappointed.”
Once you have made the conscious decision to look at things through the lens of gratitude, you should use a journal, your mobile device, or an index card to keep track. This way, you’ll never lose sight of all the good things in your life. To get into the habit of writing things down, spend the next week writing down 1-3 things you are grateful for each day. It can be a basic gratitude, such as having a roof over your head. It can also be a paradoxical gratitude, such as finding the silver lining in the face of a negative circumstance.
Keeping a gratitude journal is nice because it builds up memories about gratitude. The next step is to share those memories with the people around you. Sharing gratitude helps you connect with others around something positive and life-affirming. And we can all stand to have more of that in our life.
- Begin by sharing your gratitude, then ask someone else what they are grateful for. Let yourself be open to the deeper ideas that grow out of this mutual discussion to finding meaning in life.
- Write a gratitude letter to someone who has done something helpful, kind, caring, impactful, or compassionate for you. Then, after doing this, share this letter with that individual — in person or by merely giving them the letter.
- Share the story behind one of the things you are grateful for with another person.
Other Gratitude Builders
We are saying here that while life has plenty of ups and downs, we each have the power of gratitude. It’s surprisingly easy to do, even in the face of a negative circumstance. We challenge you to take a nice deep breath, focus on what you still have to be grateful for, and then move forward with a more open heart.
Our heart is devoted to caring about people and marriages!
Our heart is and always has been devoted to caring about people. We want to ensure you have a safe and connected marriage. The best way we know how to do that is by spreading the word to more people and let them know that we are here.
What do you think? Do you have a safe and connected marriage? What are some ways you and your spouse have worked together to focus more on the positives in your lives? Have you both been able to acknowledge that having more gratitude is a choice? Send us a quick email and let us know how you did it so that others can learn as well! mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com.