What two words can lead to better health, improved performance in the workplace and a stronger marriage? What two words should we express in all circumstances?
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
That’s it, two simple words. A few years ago, I attended a luncheon where the speaker challenged us to live in a state of gratitude for an entire day. From the moment we awoke, we were to find things to be grateful for (a warm bed, the snooze button, electricity, a hot shower, the sunrise) and really focus on gratitude throughout the entire day. I’ve done this occasionally the past few years, and while I can’t say I’ve been able to keep my focus all day long (due to the ongoing challenge of bright, shiny objects), the new appreciation I gained for things I normally took for granted was pretty incredible.
There are numerous studies related to the personal impact we experience from practicing gratitude: it reduces stress, it increases our immunity and equips us to better manage challenges that arise. Feeling grateful actually changes our physical state by increasing the level of endorphins in our body. It inspires positive emotions, and research indicates our brains perform better in a positive state (as opposed to stressed or neutral). Inevitably, these benefits translate into better results at work and at home
How can you become more grateful? Awareness is always the first step…
1) Become aware of all the blessings in your life. What times are good, it’s easy to count your blessings. However, if you are going through a particularly tough time, this can be a challenge. But, if you consider how things could be worse, you might be able to find the good in the here and now. No one ever said life would be easy; we need to learn to be grateful in any situation.
2) Be grateful for those blessings. Maybe you can get in state of gratitude by simply focusing your thoughts on what you are thankful for each and every day; or, you may find it helpful to write (yes, pen and paper) all the things for which you are thankful.
3) Consider random acts of gratitude. Thank your co-workers with a written note, send a card to let your customer know you appreciate their business, find opportunities to tell your spouse and kids ‘thank you.’
4) Seek the good. Continually turn your attention from what’s not going well to what is going well. If you look for the negative, you will find it. If you look for the positive, you will find it.
5) Surround yourself with reminders. Add a reminder to your phone or computer to pause and be grateful every day. Put notes on your bathroom mirror, by the kitchen sink or in your car, reminding you to be grateful. And, here’s one I learned the other day from a friend, whenever you see an ATM machine, pause to Appreciate the Moment (ATM).
Celebrate “thanks-giving” year-round and make it a part of your routine. It’s good for your body, mind and soul, and it’s Biblical:
“always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20