An Attitude of Gratitude
By focusing on the positive features of your life, you can develop a spirit of thankfulness and discover true peace this holiday season
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: In light of Thanksgiving, I hope you will answer my question with regard to gratitude. I’ve heard of “gratitude walls” and “gratitude corners.” What do you think of these? I’m hoping to inspire a greater attitude of gratitude in my home by consciously putting up some positive reminders. Any other advice is appreciated. Our family is going through a challenging time.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the negativity and hardship we face, but a gratitude area in the home is an excellent reminder to focus on what is good in your life.
Everyone in the home can contribute to the gratitude area, whether it is a wall, shelf or a corner of a room. Intentionally dedicating an area to place things that symbolize what you are thankful for can “up” the appreciation vibe in your home and inspire more awareness. It can be as simple as an area with items, images or gifts from others, or words of encouragement and inspiration. By using some creativity and setting the intent, a gratitude area can be powerful, helping to change the way you look at your situation.
“I am so stressed out”
In a recent conversation with a client I hadn’t seen for a year, I asked how things were going and he let out a big sigh and said he was really stressed out. When I asked what was going on, he shared that he had started a new business, but getting things going was taking more time than he had anticipated; he didn’t have as much financial stability as he wanted; he had just closed on a house, his girlfriend had gotten pregnant unexpectedly, and they wanted to get married before the baby was born. So many things were happening at once that he felt overwhelmed and stressed on all levels.
He was surprised and looked at me as if I were crazy when I said, “This is great news!
You have so much to be thankful for. You and your soon-to-be wife are having a child, and you have a new house and a promising new business. It sounds to me as if things are going really well! Last year you told me that this is what you wanted in your life and here you are making it happen!”
Instead of focusing on all the challenging aspects of what was happening, I saw everything that he perceived as stressful, as a blessing, something to be appreciative of. This wasn’t about “positive thinking” as much as it was about helping him recognize that what he was seeing as “stress” and labeling as “bad” was an integral part of achieving what he really wanted.
He had been unable to accept the reality that the all challenges have a positive side; so, over the past six months, he made himself miserable by only looking at one side of the challenges. I asked him to voice aloud all the things that were going well in his life, bringing forth a new and present positive focus on the very things he saw as challenging.
Something for nothing
In my line of work, I come across many people who feel that life should give them the “good” without the “bad,” an unrealistic viewpoint. Polarity is a fact of life on this planet. We live in a world where the good is always balanced with the bad. That means that getting where we want to be in life (somewhere “good”) will usually involve some sort of challenge (something “bad”). Remembering this can bring a greater sense of appreciation for the present.
Count your blessings
Most people count their blessings when things are going well, but counting your blessings when things become challenging takes courage and can work miracles, whether you are dealing with a broken heart, the end of a marriage or job, facing challenges with your family or having a serious health ailment.
Find gratitude in challenges
When you look for reasons to be thankful for the challenges in your life, you awaken to the divine balance of life and acquire deep understanding of your circumstances by seeing the bigger picture, which engenders gratitude that can bring peace in troubling times.
Gratitude reminds us of the positive things in life. For instance, if you hate your job, be happy that you have one and then make it something you love. Gratitude also helps us focus on what is important so that we don’t sweat the small stuff. Most important, gratitude reminds us to practice kindness, which draws more of the same toward us.
Temporary peace versus true peace
If we express gratitude only when things are going well, the ensuing peace will be temporary because life is oppositional and we are bound to have bad times. To experience lasting peace, ask yourself the questions that allow you to see the other side of any challenging situation. What are the benefits of your marriage ending? What about your illness has served you? What has getting fired from your job allowed you to experience? Keep asking until you have the answers and see the entire picture.
Something to be thankful for can be found in every situation in your life, no matter how you perceive it today. So, no matter what you are going through, keep that gratitude corner fresh and new by updating it with each new challenge so that your focus is always on the positive.
Alice Inoue is the founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happiness U, an educational establishment at Gentry Pacific Center on Nimitz Highway. Learn things about life that were never taught in school about how to be happy. Happiness U offers classes such as Feng Shui 101, Clutter Clearing Plan 101, Positive Mindset 101, Happiness 101 and more. Visit www.YourHappinessU.com for more information.