It is easy to feel grateful when you have health, wealth, leisure time and freedom of movement. But having an attitude of gratitude in times of illness, financial struggle, conflict, or distress is a different story.
During strict Covid-19 protocols gratitude was important. A December 2020 headline from CBC read, “Dealing with a lot: Suicide crisis calls mount during COVID-19 pandemic.” While this headline referred to the many losses of security, jobs, freedom of movement, and more the Calgary Distress Centre reported suicide-related calls, texts and chats had increased in October by sixty-six percent.
Increases in depression and suicide are familiar statistics in times of recession and troubled times. But people with high resilience continue to count their blessings. 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.
During the pandemic, our young neighbour was laid off from a job she loved. 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 Gratitude
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 therapeutic counseling, support family, and a rejuvenating naps.
- 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 an Attitude of 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 for 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.
- Send a little gesture or gift to a co-worker 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.
If you enjoy journalling please check out the work of Canadian, Lynda Monk at The International Association for Journal Writing
May your blessings be many and may you notice them! May you have an attitude of gratitude. On that note, how do you develop your attitude of gratitude? I am interested!