Gratitude is defined as: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. When asked, “What are you grateful for?” many respond with; family, food to eat, a place to live. If, in fact, these are what the person has in their life. These basics; community, food and shelter are the obvious things we can be thankful for, but also what we most often take for granted. Imagine if you didn’t have just one of these three, how much harder your life would be! In reality, there are many who do struggle without the basics, and even if you are not exposed to it daily, deep down you know this and appreciate what you do have.

How can you live with gratitude?

Experts encourage people to keep a gratitude journal, or simply listing three things you are grateful for each day, in order to remind ourselves of what we do have. This is what I call living with gratitude. It’s the first part of the definition; the quality of being thankful.

What is living within gratitude?

Living within gratitude takes things a step further. It is the second part of the definition; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. What does this mean? Say, for example, you are standing in a line and the person behind you strikes up a conversation. You’ve already had a long day, you might be feeling a little grumpy, and would rather not engage. You do have a brief conversation, however, during which the other person smiled and showed positive energy. You feel better as a result, and when you reach the front of the line, you return the kindness to the clerk. What happened in this scenario is a mindset adjustment. When you make a conscience decision to pause, and allow kindness and appreciation to flow between yourself and others, you are creating an environment of gratitude.

Gratitude for material things takes a mindset adjust as well. It’s really hard, for example, to feel gratitude when your furnace breaks down in the middle of winter. But, pausing and remembering that there are those without homes who are either huddled outside or sleeping in a shelter can put things into perspective. Sure, there is time and expense involved when things break down, and it is appropriate to feel upset at the circumstances. Allow yourself to feel those emotions, and then think of others to gain perspective and appreciation.

Why is gratitude important?

The number one reason to live with and within gratitude is simply the more you focus on being thankful, the less time there is for negative thoughts. You create increased happiness and less stress for yourself and others. In addition, it has been shown that being more optimistic has positive effects on physical health. Gratitude could be one of the easiest steps to better health! And, once you truly live within gratitude, you glow. It’s the kind of glow that makes people feel your positive energy and want to know the secret to it.

It may not be an effortless transition!

Just because gratitude is one of the easiest steps to better health, does not mean the transition to a gratitude filled life will be effortless. (Certainly less complicated than finding time to exercise and cook healthy meals each day! All of which are important.) It takes effort to make in-the-moment decisions and adjust your thoughts. but over time it will get easier. Share the secret! Eventually, expressing and showing appreciation for the people, things, and experiences in your life, will become a lifestyle. It becomes a part of you. A part of the smart, beautiful, creative, kind, amazing, thankful you!

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