TADS Insights

Have an Attitude of Gratitude

1 February 2014

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Did you ever notice that people who look at the world with a grateful eye are generally happier, more contented, and more successful?  Somehow people with genuine gratitude in their hearts are able to achieve extraordinary results because they attract the right people and opportunities into their life which, in turn, enables them to be successful.

When you make the decision to be grateful – and it is a decision – you immediately begin to see the good in everything.  Even within the most difficult or unpleasant situation, it’s possible to find something positive. Grateful people can always see the silver lining, the rainbow, the pot of gold, the light at the end of the tunnel.

Years ago, James Alan wrote that we become what we think about.  What we think about, therefore, really matters.  And people who are grateful know this secret.

But why does it matter so much?  When we are grateful for what life throws at us, even if it is something we may not have chosen, we tend to accept the situation without resistance.  We say to ourselves, “what is, is” and we then get on with making the best of the situation.  Without resistance, we immediately begin to make progress despite how we might have wished things to be different than they are.  We don’t waste time.

So, no matter what the circumstances, it’s a good idea to immediately begin to look for the positives and to clearly isolate one or two things for which you have gratitude.  You might even consider writing these down in a gratitude journal or notebook.  In the beginning this approach may appear strange or even false to you, but I can assure you that, with practice, you’ll notice less stress and more progress in your life.

In a study at the University of California at Davis, Professor Robert Emmons came up with some very interesting and illuminating results from his research project on gratitude and thankfulness.  Professor Emmons found that people who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.  In addition, participants who kept the journals were more likely to make progress towards their personal goals in life.

The study also notes that people with a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be empathic and to take the perspective of others.  Grateful individuals place less importance on material goods; they are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated; they are less envious of wealthy persons; and are more likely to share their possessions with others relative to less grateful persons.

It is also very interesting to know that some of the wealthiest individuals in the world are also the most grateful.  If you want to see this for yourself, visit www.givingpledge.org and read the letters from such well known people as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Paul Allen.  On this website, these high wealth individuals pledge to give the majority of their enormous wealth away in support of worthwhile projects and endeavours – all within their lifetimes.  As you read, you’ll be struck by how truly grateful these individuals are for the opportunities that came their way, as well as their concern for using their massive resources in the best possible way.

How can you start to practice gratitude?  Begin with the art of mindfulness, being totally present in the moment.  When you notice all the little things that surround you, you’ll wake up to an abundance of opportunities to be grateful.  Notice the beauty that is in nature and in your life.

One of the practices I have adopted is to go out of my way to say “thank you” to as many people as possible throughout my day.  Even a trip to the grocery store is an ideal opportunity to notice how your attitude of gratitude can make a difference to someone else.  The next time you are in a checkout line, take the time to really connect with the checkout operator, say “thank you” so you really mean it, and then just watch the impact it has on them.

At work, instead of focussing on what’s wrong or what could be better, decide to direct your attention to what is working well.  This is not to ignore areas for improvement, but start from a position of gratitude and from there advance to what can be different.  This change of approach will produce outcomes that will surprise you and your colleagues.

When you are present and in the now, you’ll begin to notice all kinds of ways to be thankful.  Being thankful now is the key to attracting prosperity into your life.

-- David Keane