This Pandemic pause sure has taught us a lot about appreciation, hasn’t it? We’ve been reminded to value our health, our family and our freedom. We’ve learned to appreciate connection, even if it has been on a zoom call. We’ve risen during a time of great challenge and sadness to show appreciation for the front-line workers: those who look after us in emergencies, who take good care of our food supply and our most vulnerable. The Pandemic has been an exercise in patience, perspective and I think most importantly it’s been a great lesson in gratitude.
I want to thank you for making time to read our blog, for being open-minded enough to consider a fresh perspective or an idea you may not have considered before. Ideas like teaching yourself to express appreciation to someone when you’re feeling low because expressing gratitude when we’re not in the mood fosters more gratitude in the world around us and helps us to feel better. Perspectives like looking for opportunities to learn something from challenging situations because that’s how we make ourselves better. I encourage people to search for something to be grateful for in a difficult situation because there’s always something when we choose to look for it. I like to share with people that the two most important words in the English language are thank you and I always encourage their overuse.
“This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” -Maya Angelou
Developing an attitude of appreciation involves learning to value something as simple as a new day. Each sunrise and sunset is something we’ve never seen before. We also get to start over every day with a clean slate, even though our thoughts will remind us of all the things we haven’t done and all the reasons we should consider being grateful as a waste of time. Trust me on this: learning to be grateful is one of the greatest investments you can make in yourself.
Research on the benefits of gratitude is ongoing with two psychologists Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami at the forefront. Studies show that gratitude is associated with a greater sense of well-being and happiness, increased generosity and empathy, better relationships, fewer aches and pains, more alertness and determination as well as better sleep. Doesn’t that sound like good medicine?
Often we reserve gratitude or appreciation for gifts we receive, right? Consider that we are receiving all the time as in receiving oxygen into our lungs, sunlight on our face, a bird song and nature; not to mention running water, hot water, electricity and all of the modern conveniences we use every day.
Whether you journal about five things you’re grateful for every day or you express your thanks to someone who has helped you out, by sending a thank you card, you’re developing an approach to life that will deliver great dividends.
“Today is a wonderful day to have a wonderful day.” -Maya Angelou
Gratitude can really challenge us though because showing appreciation can make us feel vulnerable and we’ve been taught that being vulnerable equals weakness. Many of us have been taught to be independent and not rely on or take too much from others. We easily turn down compliments and kind offers in the name of independence while missing the opportunity for another person to feel good because they’ve helped us out and we miss an opportunity to show appreciation for an act of kindness. What if I told you that gratitude and appreciation are your superpowers? You have an endless supply but you have to use your superpowers to keep the store replenished.
The next time you notice a beautiful sunrise or sunset, just say thank you. When someone offers to help you out in some way allow it and say thank you. This way of operating puts fear in the back seat and connects us with the beauty of life and the powerful force of interdependence. During this season of giving thanks, let’s shift perspective and make gratitude a gift we share with others all year round by giving compliments freely, using your gratitude journal and saying thank you every day.