“Those who tend to be more grateful rather than bitter are generally more positive and more satisfied with their lives.”
By Judy Belmont
It is no secret that gratefulness is correlated with life satisfaction and happiness. Those who tend to be more grateful rather than bitter are generally more positive, more satisfied with their lives, and will be able to see the silver lining even on cloudy days.
Grateful people don’t expect that life is going to give them everything they deserve. They realize that good things do not always happen to good people, and they have given up the notion that life “owes them” anything more than it can offer. Cancer, afflictions, and even the death of innocent people are unfortunately part of life. The question is not if life is unfair, but can we move on in spite of it.
They do not have preconditions to their happiness. They do not think “If this happens” only then “I will be happy.” They understand happiness is not coming from the outside, but from within. They focus more on their adjustment to what happens rather than try to change what can not be changed. They do not attempt to micromanage people and things in their lives that are not really in their control.
People who are grateful have realized that you can not have the rainbow without the rain. They see rainy days as a normal part of life rather than an aberration, and learn from the rain rather than just wait for it to go away. Realizing you can not have one without the other, they are grateful for both.
Grateful people have hope. No matter what happens, hope is not lost. They realize the future is uncertain, and while they plan for it, they do not try to micromanage outcomes that are beyond their sphere of influence. They take comfort in the fact that once the sun sets, it rises the next day. They have faith that there is more to life.
Those who are steeped in bitterness and grudges have no space in their heart to be grateful. Forgiving your spouse for not being as understanding as you would have been, forgiving your children for making choices that would not have been your own, and giving up the grudge of a slight or injustice from a friend, are all parts of the gratitude equation. Carrying the torch of bitterness is going to hurt you more than them.
People who are grateful know that a grateful attitude takes work. Gratefulness does not always come naturally, especially in the most challenging times. In such times, grateful people work on keeping a good perspective. They might read affirmations, seek support from others, get help for their sadness or anxiety. Some will seek counseling and do not shy away from the effort it takes.
Grateful people have healthy thinking habits. They go by the motto, “Think Straight – Feel Great!” They can separate their perceptions from the facts and separate rational from victim-like irrational ways of thinking. For example, they will replace victim self-talk such as “They make me so mad” to victor self-talk such as “I was mad when they did that.”
Grateful people are flexible in their thinking. People who think flexibly are at an advantage in life, as flexibility is the key to growth and wisdom. With this mentality, the doors that close yield others that now become open.
People who love to learn tend to be grateful. Each setback or unforeseen life event offers us lessons, and grateful people focus more on the lessons they can get out of each situation rather than the disappointments.
Grateful people define their self-worth by their determination and their dreams, not their regrets and disappointments. A grateful mindset has no room for excessive self-recrimination and low self-esteem. People who are stuck in past regrets will not be able to be truly grateful. Positive self-esteem sets the foundation for gratefulness.
How about starting a Gratefulness campaign in your own life? Start now by writing down at least 10 things you are thankful for.