Gratitude does not change circumstances. It changes the person.
Two people can find themselves in the same situation. One can complain about the traffic, the heat, the time lost, the hunger, etc.
The other can be grateful for his transportation, for good weather, for time to read a good book, for having friends to commute with, and a family to share dinner with.
They are going through the same situation but having a different experience of it. The difference? Gratitude.
Science shows that gratitude affects your brain at the biological level. Some antidepressants boost the neurotransmitter dopamine. But so does gratitude and it has no side effects.
Gratitude towards people increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable. Just thinking of things you are grateful for also increases serotonin production.
Gratitude likewise opens the door to more blessings. When you say “thank you,” it’s like oil in the machinery of life. It transmits positive energy to anything you are grateful for. Being grateful signifies that we want to have more of what we are thankful for.
I don’t know where you are in your life right now, my friend. Maybe you are reading this book trying to find something that can help you be happy again. Perhaps you’re depressed. Maybe you or your loved one is sick. Maybe you hate your job. Maybe your partner left you. Maybe your finances are in ruins.
I want to reassure you that wherever you are in life, there is something that you can be thankful for no matter how small.
Six Areas You Can Be Grateful For
• Grateful for things
• Grateful for events and circumstances • Grateful for thoughts and feelings
• Grateful for people
• Grateful for self
• Grateful for God
Grateful for Things
Grab one thing around you. Go ahead. Do you have it in your hand now?
What does this thing enable you to do? Express your appreciation for that object. It’s OK, you’re the only one who can hear and see yourself talking to it.
You can say:
“Thank you, ballpen, for being available to take down notes for me so that I will remember what I need.”
“Thank you, cell phone. You help me keep in touch with my loved ones.” “Thank you, shirt. You make me look good. You brighten my day.”
Grateful for Events and Circumstances
Today, focus on doing one activity and reflect on how this activity benefits you.
Maybe you don’t like your job or the work that you do. Think about it for a few minutes. How does it benefit you? Does it give you a regular paycheck? Does it give you new friends? Does it put food on the table?
Or maybe you’re on the other side of things — you’re idle and don’t have work. How does being unemployed now benefit you? Does it give you more time to do the things you want to do but did not have time before?
Some people might think: “Nothing! It doesn’t benefit me one bit.”
But here’s how I would respond to them:
“Really? Nothing? What you’re doing doesn’t benefit you at all? If so, why do you continue doing it? Will you get hurt if you stop doing it? Then that’s the benefit! You choose to do it so you won’t get hurt.”
If this is your situation, be honest with yourself and acknowledge it.
The truth is: There’s always something to be grateful for. Remember that gratitude changes you, not your circumstances.
Grateful for Thoughts and Feelings
While you’re reading this, you may be thinking, “Hey, that’s a new idea I could use.”
Be thankful for all the transformations that are happening within you. Every second, every moment, you are having a new thought, a new feeling. It is a continuous stream of thoughts and feelings. Be grateful for them.
Grateful for People
As you remember the people around you — your loved ones, family and friends — think about what you are grateful for about them.
Go ahead and choose one person. Maybe you find someone difficult to deal with and you’re experiencing feelings of hate for that person. Give yourself a chance to think of something you are grateful for about this person you “hate.”
Maybe your ex-boyfriend made you a stronger person. Maybe your current boss helped you appreciate your former boss.
Or maybe you have loved ones who are easy to be grateful for — your parents, your spouse, your office mate, your best friend. Be grateful for them. That’s easy. You want to level up? Express your gratitude to them. Compose a handwritten note and let them know how grateful you are.
Grateful for Self
Be grateful for yourself. There’s only one person in the world that you will be with for the rest of your life — you! You might as well be grateful for something about yourself. Friend, what do you like about yourself ?
“Eh kung yung status message nga ng kaibigan mo, nila-like mo. Dapat sarili mo, nila-like mo rin.”
(“If you ‘like’ the status message of your friend, you should like yourself as well.”)
– Seen on Facebook
Grateful for God
I’m not sure if you believe in God but I just want to share a story with you that can help you understand my perspective.
Imagine a mechanical watch with a hundred different parts and components. A skillful watchmaker can put all these parts together with precision so it works perfectly as a watch that keeps time.
Now imagine that watch being disassembled into a hundred different parts and each part tossed into a box. Inside the container are all the parts needed to create a watch.
What would happen if you shook the box for a day? Do you think the parts would randomly get assembled into a watch? If you shook the box for two more days, would it turn into a watch by itself ?
Some people think that there is no God. I look around me and see nature, water, rain, trees and man-made buildings. I see my own body and am awed at its capacity to heal wounds and create new ideas. I marvel at how God put all these things together. It cannot be just some random thing. It is statistically impossible to create such marvels without a divine hand orchestrating them.
I thank God for the beauty of life. I believe you do, too.
We will find limitless blessings to be thankful for if only we take time to appreciate the world around us.
Time to Reflect
What is your level of gratitude, one being the lowest and 10 the highest? In what ways can you increase your level of gratitude?
Write three things that you’re grateful for today. Post your list on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Repeat this activity for the next 30 days.
Use the hashtags #30daysofgratitude #BeHappyAgain #BeGrateful #GratefulDaybyDay
I assure you, your happiness will increase tenfold. Try it and find out for yourself.
*This excerpt is taken from You Can Be Happy Again by Edwin S. Soriano.
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