Thursday, October 29, 2009

Three Keys to Unlocking Your Thankfulness for All Things

By Julie Marie Rahm

Last week I suggested a gratitude habit as a way to feel happier. The question that often follows that suggestion is "How can I be thankful for ALL things?". Here are three ways.

The first and easiest key is to be thankful for the good things in life. This is a great way to begin a gratitude habit. Master the first key before moving on to the second.

The second key is to begin looking at the setbacks, difficulties, and disappointments in our lives and start to find some thankfulness for them, too. After all, wouldn't life be dull without them? Being tested as we ride the rollercoaster of life helps us grow and expand into our full potential. When we take steps toward embracing our pain, it transforms our experiences into something more manageable and meaningful. This illustrates how the results we get in our lives depend on our responses to circumstances rather than on the circumstances themselves. We have a choice in the way we respond.

The third key is to replace reacting with creating. When something happens that you perceive is bad, can you turn it around? Answer these three questions: 1. How is this event a gift for me? 2. What is it I really want? 3. What is wonderful in my life right now? "Are you kidding me?" you may ask. Try this. Every time you hear yourself grumbling, follow it with a statement of gratitude. For example, "I had to park far away from the mall and will have to walk a long way with my packages - and I am grateful for strong legs and the exercise I am getting on this walk." Or, "I just broke the kids' habit of cereal before bedtime and the first night my husband is home from deployment he offers the kids cereal - and it is good to have him home and to have a husband who loves our children."

The practice of thankfulness is not living in denial. Rather, it is an antidote to negative feelings. We can choose to meet our situations with open hearts instead of dwelling on frustrations. We can accept what comes our way and be grateful for the opportunity to grow while still taking appropriate action.

Carry the three keys in your "tool belt" and you will always be prepared to unlock your gratitude.

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