Look around & smile – it´s time to be grateful
Have you thought about being grateful today?
We have dark times. A global pandemic is setting the world apart as we knew it. People suffer from losing their beloved ones, the symptoms of the disease or from the fear of losing their jobs or their businesses. Others work in the health care system and are confronted with the new virus daily; they work to total exhaustion while having to face sickness and dead.
It´s not an easy time. But isn´t there something we can be grateful for?
Appreciate the gift of life
Due to COVID-19 we are more than ever confronted with our own mortality. Research has shown, that if we appreciate the gift of life and realize how precious the time we have is, the more grateful we are for the things we have in this life, the people around us and the experience we make.
If you take things for granted, you believe, that you are invulnerable. Once you realize that everything you have can be taken away from you the next minute, you are much more grateful for what you have.
Look around and see the little things
- Have you noticed the smiling faces of your kids today? It´s exhausting to sit in class all day wearing a mask, but still, they seem to be happy and having fun.
- Did you go outside today to take a walk and breath in some fresh air? Feeling the warm rays of the sun on your skin and noticing how energizing it is to move your body.
- Treat yourself with a fresh cooked meal and be grateful for the ingredients you have and the nourishing impact of the food.
- Be thankful for the acquisitions of the digital world while talking to your beloved ones over the computer, seeing their smiling faces and feel connected at least for this moment.
2020 was a very special year
I haven´t written about COVID since the beginning of the pandemic in March/April 2020 (“I believe my pig is whistling” and “Dancing with silver shoes”). I didn´t wanted to give it more room as it already has. It´s omnipresent in the media.
This blog is about happy living, my main goal is to give you ideas on the beauty of life – beside what`s going on in the outer world. There is always a silver lining on the horizon. There is always a lot you and I can do to not give in into fear and anxiety.
If you talk to the people or listen to surveys, there is a lot people agreed upon to be true for this year.
- There is so much less that we need, that we thought we would.
- Don´t take things for granted
- Appreciate what you have (family, food, a roof over your head)
How can it help to be grateful in hard times?
What is gratitude and how can it be helpful to be grateful in tough times?
Simply put gratitude is the state of being thankful or grateful for something. On the other hand, gratitude does not mean to deny suffer and pain or to disclaim negativity. But once you realize that there are also things to be thankful for – especially in tough times – you can take this energy to uplift your mood and see new opportunities.
Dr. Robert Emmons, one of the worlds´s renowned experts on gratitude argues that
„not only will a grateful attitude help—it is essential. In fact, it is precisely under crisis conditions when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life. In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times.“
According to him, it is vital to make a distinction between feeling grateful and being grateful. Our feelings happen spontaneously, we don´t have full control on how we react on certain situations. Our thoughts are conducted by how we see the world, triggered through old thought patterns on how we think things should be.
Being grateful instead is a state of mind, which we chose. It is a decision on how we want to see life and how we deal with circumstances, which threaten us. Do we take them as an opportunity to see the positive sites of a forced change (to start something knew, to be grateful for the savings we were able to build) or do we buy into anxiety and fear?
This is the time of the year to reflect.
It´s a time of silence and renewal.
- What have we learned through the course of the year?
- In what ways were we blessed trough what has happened?
- What do we want for ourselves and our relatives?
- How can I express my gratitude to others?
„Gratitude is a selfless act. Its acts are done unconditionally, to show to people that they are appreciated. It empowers us to take charge of our emotional lives and, as a consequence, our bodies reap the benefits.“ – Dr. Rober Emerson
Grateful persons are more resilient to stress as their positive way of thinking influences the way they deal with their daily work-load. They are open to express appreciation to others, giving a good feeling not only to the receiver, but also to themselves. It´s easy to try: go outside and smile to someone. Say an extra thank you to the lady at the kiosk, who has your newspaper ready to collect for your day by day. Appreciate that your colleague has done the research for you, you hadn´t had time for. Give a thank you to your partner for washing the dishes. It doesn´t need much, there is always something we can be grateful for.
Remember, it is an attitude, not a feeling.
How to daily express gratitude
Building a grateful attitude is a routine, which applies to the same rules as installing a morning routine or a daily meditation practice. It needs practice and continuity.
Find some ideas on how to express your gratitude daily:
- Start your day with being grateful: Call it a prayer, an affirmation or just say thank you: expressing your gratitude first thing in the morning helps you to start the day with a positive attitude
- Be grateful for what is going to happen throughout this day. Concentrate your thoughts on appreciating what is going to happen throughout the day (“I´m grateful for the positive outcome with the meeting with my boss”). In doing so, you set your mind in the right mood to assume a positive outcome of the day/tasks.
- Write a gratitude journal: list a few things every day about what you are grateful for. This a perfect tool in the morning as well as in the evening to gratefully finish your day.
- Write a letter of gratitude. This can be from your future self to thank your current self for all the actions it had taken for this wonderful life or also to someone close to you, whom you want to express your gratitude for being there or doing this particular thing for you. It is not important to send the letter. Already the act of writing gives you a thankful feeling.
- Write about a negative incident in your past and try to be grateful about the teachings you learned from it. (e.g. it made me become a stronger person, forced me to learn new things, etc.).
You might not feel like expressing your gratitude, if you have lost someone through the course of this year. Losing a beloved one is the hardest thing, someone has to face. My deepest sympathy is with all the people who have to face loss and grieve. This is a very hard time for you and being thankful for the experience seem like a farce. Nothing can take away the loss, nor does a positive attitude feels right for you at this moment. But at some point, you might be able to see, what else there is in your life. You might be able to see the gift of life itself.
I very much hope, that 2021 will bring a release of the impacts of the Corona virus and I am grateful for everything that lies ahead of me. Today, I will leave the house with a smile, grateful for all the precious gifts I have in my life.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”