How much time do you spend giving thanks? What is your favorite thing to give thanks for in your life?
How much time do you spend complaining? What is your favorite thing to complain about?
Which do you spend more time doing: giving thanks or complaining?
Here are seven reasons to be grateful:
1) Gratitude connects us with something greater.
One of the major issues we deal with in life is isolation and disconnection. Every time we say “thank you” it acknowledges the connection we have with others. As we express our gratitude for each gift, kind act or thoughtful gesture, we are acknowledging our connection with a greater world. Our lives are blessed by all the connection points we have with others in life.
When we give thanks for what we have, what we eat and how we live, it connects us to nature, the Earth, the seasons, the time we live in and all that has gone on before us. When much of our life comes in boxes and wrapped in plastic, gratitude allows us to feel our connection to life, to our food and to the moment. It reminds us of the basic elements that make life possible. We could not be here without the dirt we live on or the sun that warms us or the water that quenches our thirst.
Gratitude reminds us of our connection with our Creator. It connects us to the spiritual energy of the universe. It awakens our soul to its source and the very meaning of life. Every time we say “thank you God” it reminds our humanity of its divine relationship with that which is greater than ourselves.
2) Gratitude acknowledges the good that we already have in our lives.
Counting our blessings has long been a way for us to see that which often goes ignored. Each life is filled with unrecognized good. Scripture says that the kingdom of heaven is all around us but we see it not. As we give thanks we begin to see the massive amount of good right before our eyes.
3) Gratitude helps us see the good in a difficult situation.
Rarely are things 100% good or 100% bad. Gratitude allows us to see the good in even difficult situations. As we begin to give thanks for the good in every situation, we magnify it in our awareness. It moves us from feeling like a victim to feeling empowered. We may not have control of every situation but we do have control of how we perceive it and how we react to it.
4) Gratitude creates greater good.
As a young man I heard a speaker say that if you want to change your life, give thanks for what you have. He went on to say that there is nothing more powerful than gratitude to change your life. He challenged the audience to start giving thank for all the things that we didn’t like about our lives. He believed that if we could give thanks for it, we would actually call forth greater spiritual good that would and could transform any situation.
He shared a story of a man who desperately wanted to move into a nicer home. He went to every room in his house and gave thanks for that room. He began to say “thank you God for my beautiful home” in every room in his house. As the story went, in a very short time the way was made clear for this man to buy a new beautiful home and in a fantastic neighborhood.
I knew that story was for me. At the time I was living in a small studio apartment. I only had one room with a small kitchen and bathroom. I couldn’t go to every room and give thanks, I only had one room. I went instead to every corner and gave thanks. I would stand on the bed and say, “Thank you God for my wonderful apartment.” I would go to the corner where the couch was and I would repeat my affirmation, “Thank you God for my wonderful apartment.”
What began to happen was that my perception of my little apartment radically changed. I began to truly feel blessed by where I was living. Within several weeks of giving thanks, I was asked to move in with a couple of friends who had a condo on a hill in Southern California with a view, on a clear day, that allowed one to see from Palos Verde Peninsula down to Laguna Beach. I learned that gratitude was the way to transform your life.
5) Gratitude opens our heart.
Gratitude opens our heart to let the flow of love into our lives. The only requirement of love is that we open our hearts. Divine love can only flow through a receptive heart. As we give thanks, our heart can’t help but open. The more we acknowledge a blessing, a kind word or a generous moment, the more our hearts open and love flows.
6) Gratitude maximizes our enjoyment of life.
It is impossible for us to be cranky and grateful in the same moment; it simply cannot be done. To be cranky you have to feel like a victim and you can’t be grateful and feel like a victim at the same time. Try it. Can you do it? As we give thanks, our enjoyment of life expands. Not only does our enjoyment expand but we become more enjoyable. Cranky people are not giving thanks enough to enjoy life or to be enjoyable to be around.
7) Gratitude reminds us that we are blessed.
One of the fundamental truths in life is that we are blessed. Gratitude reminds us of just how blessed we are.
One of the exercises I give people is to spend three weeks practicing gratitude and no matter what happens in life, all you can say is, “Thank you God!” If the light is red, “Thank you God!” If the light is green, ‘Thank you God!” If you have a hot breakfast or cold cereal, “Thank you God!”
When people spend three weeks giving thanks for everything, they come away from the experience feeling profoundly blessed.