November 30, 2011

Giving Thanks – Get Addicted!

It’s common sense to me that offering and receiving thanks boosts moods. Sincere and heart-felt thanks benefit everyone involved. If I thank you for something, you are happy for being recognized and I am happy for reciprocating the wonderful gesture. If I am thanked for something I did, I would also feel good about myself that I made another pleased. Isn’t that why we thank each other- as we are grateful and appreciate what they have done for us? In a nutshell, it made us happy.

Everyday I like to take a moment to give thanks for the wonderful stuff in my life. As I do this, I appreciate it more; and just as the law of attraction suggests, more great and wonderful stuff comes into my life. It’s like I waved a magic wand; and there it is. As we start appreciating even the mundane things (yes, hubby came home safe and sound today), the things we take for granted (yes, I have clean and safe water to drink), the experiences build on each other and it’s like we open a gold chest everyday with all the awesomeness in our lives.

Now, many may be skeptical and think this is a bunch of positive thinking hogwash. Yes, positive thinking has something to do with it, but not really. I must be positive to be thankful, that’s true; but I am not necessarily using positive thinking skills to fabricate these things. The Saturday Night Live adage of "I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me." (Stuart Smalley character’s line from bygone days.) may come to mind. Through thanking others and the universe for providing me my needs and more, I actually start gaining a better self-concept of myself; and visa versa. Those with lower self-concepts may not be as open to seeing the good around them and appreciating it as a positive person with a good self –esteem, so these two concepts – positive thinking and gratitude (thanking others or universe) definitely influence each other. They go hand in hand. I know from personal experience. This experience comes from overlapping experience. There is the first experience of deciding to be more thankful many years ago and enhancing my skills in observation and identification of the wonder in my life until today; and there is the constant practice and enhancement of these skills on a daily basis. On the days I am not so “with it” or I am sick or introverted and don’t recognize the wonder about me, I am disgruntled and out of touch with myself. The more I practice and utilize these skills in gratitude the more happy and at-one I am with the surroundings around me. This helped me considerably when adjusting to Indian culture and overcoming culture shock this year.

How can you start the attitude of gratitude today?

Review your day or moments as they pass. Is there anything that was interesting, fun, amazing? This does not have to be anything out of the ordinary. Did you wake up healthy today? Did your spouse get to eat lunch when normally work comes in the way? Did your child come home safely from school? Did the man that hit your car apologize on his own and offer his insurance information? Were you able to get enough rest and wake up refreshed? What else made the day interesting, memorable, comfortable or easier?

These are things to start noting down in a book or in your mind and give thanks. If it feels too weird to ‘thank the universe’; thank God; and if not god verbalize it to someone in your life. For instance, to your spouse who came home from work, “I am so happy that you’re home. It’s so great that everyday you come home from work and we can spend time together. So many may not have this wonderful experience in their life, but we get to spend time together. I am so happy and thankful for that.”
Yes, at first, it’s going to feel and even sound weird, but over time it will become the status quo. You will find gratitude in the most mundane things. You will start to recognize things that others don’t because you’re more at one with the world, more happy and grateful. May sound hokey, but until you try it, practice it and live it – then you will truly know the power of gratitude!

Side note: The power of gratitude extends far beyond the people involved in the ‘gratitude exchange.’ Sometimes our acts of kindness or gratitude are spread to others. Those others may come to us later and surprise us with a special Thank You. That will make anyone’s day!


Thank you for reading.
This article was inspired by Thanksgiving DOES pay off: Why our bodies and brains pay us back for being grateful.

Jennifer Kumar is a cross-cultural coach living in Kochi, India. She is available in person or via Skype for consultation. Contact her here.

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