The Power of genuine Gratitude

One of those days on which everything seems to go wrong: Stuck in traffic on the way to work because of an accident. So I’m sitting there in the car and wasting my time instead of working on the report which is due today. Like this wasn’t enough, it’s a report about a topic where I have no knowledge of. How can the world be so unfair? Even the muscle pain from yesterday’s workout is killing me too. I can’t believe that my body is so weak.

On the other hand there are lucky days like this: Stuck in traffic on the way to work because of an accident. Fortunately, I wasn’t involved in that serious accident. It seems like an angel is watching over me. This is a great chance to call my mom, because I haven’t talked to her in a while. By the way I can’t wait to continue working on that report which is due today. Although it’s challenging me because I’m not familiar with the topic, I’m glad to have the chance to broaden my knowledge. Awesome, I have muscle pain. It seems like yesterday’s workout was effective. I should keep going like this.

This scenario was probably a bit idealistic, but it should help you to get the idea.

One of the discoveries in my life that I’m especially grateful for is that I learned to appreciate things more. For me appreciation is a concept like positive thinking, optimism or looking at the bright side of things. Since I started to try to find positive aspects in any situation, life has become much more colorful and happier for me. It seems like the world has become a friendlier place and suddenly opportunities occur at every corner. Actually the world hasn’t changed at all, only my thinking, the filter through which I see the world is different.

Critics might feel that by using such a method one would sugarcoat failures and adopt an unrealistic approach to life. I’m not promoting to be just positive, but lazy at the same time. Do whatever is necessary to reach your goals. But realistically there are things which cannot be influenced or sometimes the effort to eliminate all factors which might prevent success is extraordinary high. In such cases it’s more economic to accept that there is a slight possibility of failure. Nevertheless one can aim to make the best out of every situation by being positive and looking for alternatives and ways to improve in future instead of wasting energy by regretting or being upset.

Replacing negative thinking with positivity has even proven to increase brain power and the past cannot be changed anyway. But our actions determine the future. Therefore instead of complaining and feeling miserable about the past, be grateful for every lesson that life teaches, be vigilant to identify opportunities and take the necessary actions to move closer to your goals. Sometimes it’s necessary to adapt your course.

For example as passionate bboy dancer being injured used to mean the end of the world to me. A tragedy being probably similar for some people if their TV doesn’t work anymore. Life suddenly seems to be so much more meaningless… However almost every time when I was injured I learned some new moves because I couldn’t follow my regular practice plan and I had to improvise. I even started salsa dancing at a period when my leg hurt so much so that I had to cut down greatly with breaking practice. Meanwhile salsa dancing gives me also a lot of pleasure and it has enriched my life extremely. In general when being ill I try to be grateful for all the time when I enjoyed good health or I’m glad that I don’t suffer from a disease being much worse than what I experience. When being confronted with a task which is hard to solve, I try my best to see it as a good practice for myself and a way to increase my knowledge and skills. In case of interpersonal disputes I aim to apply the idea of my favorite book  ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ (Stephan Convey) to regard every conflict as an opportunity to improve the relationship.

When getting started with this way of thinking the mental effort might be discouraging at first. Although it requires some creativity, with some practice it gets easier until the point when it works almost automatically and it can be even great fun to twist seemingly unfortunate events into something that I’m overly grateful for. But be careful to not suppress any feelings. The trick is to change your thinking so that you develop the ability to remind yourself of things that you can be genuinely grateful for, something which gives you comfort and hope. E.g. when having to pay a fine for speeding, be grateful that you can afford a car. When you don’t enjoy your food, be grateful that you usually have enough to eat. When a relationship ends, try to be grateful for the good memories and an embarrassing event might serve at least as a good story to tell others. Some people recommend appreciating a couple of things every night before sleeping when being in bed. This might be helpful in the beginning, but eventually try to be grateful for as many things as possible throughout the day. By using this technique you can for example even eliminate the term ‘bad weather’ completely from your vocabulary. Learn to appreciate and enjoy the sun, wind, rain, coldness, heat, simply every detail of life.

I recommend this article for more scientific background about this topic.

I think especially these two readings have helped me to become more positive:

The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle)

Being Genuine: Stop Being Nice, Start Being Real (Thomas d’Ansembourg)

Let me know if this article was helpful for you. Be assured that I will appreciate your comments 🙂

I am a (mental) health and sports enthusiast. I love my family, friends and food. I especially enjoy challenges, dancing and humour. For further background information regarding myself, please check my LinkedIn profile.

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