I have recently read a number of books that have mentioned the attitude of gratitude and it has truly inspired me. The reason why it’s important to have an attitude of gratitude is simple. It will revolutionise your life. In the age of social media, we experience information overload with images of Instagram idols living the most unbelievable glamorous life, articles in the news of crime and corruption, work emails constantly rolling in both day and night, songs on the radio with lyrics about jet-setting across the world, advertising everywhere encouraging you to buy that new car and the moment you sit down to relax and watch the television, we have even more information pouring into our minds shaping our thoughts and reminding us that we are not yet at the place we need to be in our lives. This information overload, without us even realising, can be completely overwhelming and start weighing us down. You might start to worry about that latest email that came in while you were out for dinner with your family, feel depressed at the crime and corruption statistics in our country and feel a slight failure due to the fact that you’re not a successful multimillionaire like all the other girls your age that you’ve seen on Instagram. At points, you may think this is all too much and want to pack your bags and go live on a remote island far away from anyone. While that is not the answer, the attitude of gratitude is.
I have trained myself now to be conscious of my thoughts. I am aware of my feelings and I can tell immediately when I start to slide towards a slump, feel despondent, frustration or negativity. While I wish my mind was strong enough to curb that slide completely (and I’ve met a number of people who can), what I do is remedy my mindset with an attitude of gratitude. When I start feeling stressed, annoyed or disappointed with my progress, I immediately stop myself and remind myself of the number of things I have to be grateful for. You will be surprised at how many things will appear on your list. If you think of Maslow’s triangle, you can start off with the basics. You can be grateful for the fact that you have food in the fridge and running water. You can be grateful for the bed you sleep in and the house you live in that shelters you from the elements. You have family that love you and friends that cherish you. You have people that you could pick up the phone (another thing to be grateful for) and dial immediately whenever you need them. To be loved and to love is something to be thankful for every day. The relationships we build with people are so precious and so wonderful. Your education is always something to be grateful for. It is something no one can ever take away from you. Personally, I am so grateful for my education (something I’m very passionate about) but, even more basic is my gratitude for the ability to read which was something I lived without for a time period after my stroke. I am so grateful that I can read and write today. You might even be grateful for something as simple, but yet a luxury, as your computer and internet connection to read this post. I know I am so grateful for my internet connection which connects me to you! I wouldn’t be able to have a blog without it. Once you have considered the most basic things that you will, in turn, be grateful for the bigger things such as your job, your car, the money you have managed to save, that fancy dress you were able to afford, the lipstick that you are wearing, your jewellery.
If you are ever sliding into a negative train of thought, reach into your memory bank of things that you’re grateful for. Once you’ve reminded yourself of the things you’re grateful for, think about them. Imagine life without them. Appreciate them. Suddenly, when you think back to the present moment that was the cause for your to start sliding down the downward path, it won’t feel so bad. It will have shrunk in your mind’s eye. It might still irritate you but you have your attitude of gratitude to support you. You will have realised that you have so much in life to support you.
In addition to using your attitude of gratitude to protect you from overwhelm in particular moments, you should also consider applying it to your whole life. When I wake up in the mornings now I try to start off my day by focusing on something I’m grateful for. When I’m driving to work, I remind myself that I’m so grateful for the car I drive to get me to my workplace and so grateful that I have a job to travel to each day. By focusing on these things, I’m eliminating all the noise caused by information overload and focusing on my life and my journey alone. That realisation can bring about a tremendous amount of peace. I know that, with practice, focusing on the attitude of gratitude will make me a much more positive person and I love that effect. Life is too short to dwell on the negative. There is so much beauty in focusing on the positive.