It is easy to feel grateful when you have health, wealth and leisure time. But having an attitude of gratitude in times of illness, financial struggle and distress is a different story. Here is a headline from December 2015: “The suicide rate in Alberta climbs 30% in the wake of mass oil-patch layoffs.” CBC News
Increases in depression and suicide are familiar statistics in times of recession. But people with high resilience continue to count their blessings; yes, even during a recession it is possible. They remind themselves of Meister Eckhardt’s quote,
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough.”
Plus, they focus on what they do have and not on what they do not have.
Our young next door neighbor was laid off from a job she loves. Fortunately, she was prepared with savings in her bank account. She also implemented cutbacks on childcare and other expenses. She was wise enough to appreciate what was left for her and her family to enjoy.
When was the last time you made note of your good fortune? It is the most economical and easily accessible way to avoid depression. I feel grateful when I think of living in Canada, our welcoming home, my supportive and long-term marriage, my friends, the travel I have done, my work, and the qualities I have had the privilege to develop. One way to list your blessings is in three categories.
Three Categories of Blessings
I feel grateful for what I:
- Have: a warm and secure home, a sweet, gas efficient car, and loving family and friends.
- Do: write, speak, provide counseling, support family, and nap
- Have become: creatively expressive
Researchers Dr. Robert Emmons and Dr. Michael McCollough, authors of The Psychology of Gratitude, discovered a number of benefits in recalling our blessings. Their research included hundreds of people’s recordings. A first group kept a diary describing daily events, a second group recorded unpleasant events while a third made daily lists of gratefulness.
Benefits of Recording Gratitude
Daily gratitude resulted in:
- improved alertness
- increased energy
- increased exercise
- better sleep
- increased enthusiasm
- increased determination
- increased optimism
- decreased depression
- decreased distress
- more motivation to help others
- more goal achieving
- feeling more loved
- increased cycles of gratitude—one act inspired another
Here are some tips to help you deepen your gratitude and experience the benefits listed above.
A Dozen Ways to Boost Your Attitude of Gratitude
- Recognize you have experienced a positive benefit of your situation. Hey, no excuses here. If you are reading this, you live in a privileged country that provides you the ability to access the World Wide Web.
- Acknowledge that the benefit came from outside yourself—usually from another person, organization, geography or the abundance of planet Earth.
- Recognize that the benefit was not necessarily earned or deserved.
- Say “Thank you!” often and with meaning.
- List what you have for which you feel grateful.
- List the relationships for which you feel grateful.
- List the experiences for which you feel grateful.
- List what you see, hear, taste, smell, and touch for which you feel grateful.
- If you do not already, use a grateful word or two before eating your daily food.
- Each night record your blessings; 5 at night in a Grateful Diary or your regular journal.
- If you sleep with a sweetie, before turning the light off, express appreciation.
- View the Canadian video of Original Gratitude Dance and join in.
Boost your Attitude of Gratitude at Work
- List work activities for which you feel grateful.
- List co-workers whom you feel grateful for.
- List your strengths, qualities, skills and abilities (and those who mentored you along the way) for which you feel grateful.
- Take someone to lunch for whom you feel grateful. Perhaps write a note or letter describing what he or she says and does that you appreciate.
- Wake each morning noting your gratefulness for employment and accompanying finances.
- If you are unemployed, adapt an attitude of gratitude for the time you have been gifted; time to explore possibilities you never before imagined.
May your blessing be many and may you notice them! On that note, how do you develop your attitude of gratitude?