Overcoming Stress with Gratitude

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When you’re grateful, you’re showing a thankful acceptance of what you have instead of pining for what you want. Gratitude inevitably fosters happiness. Over the past few weeks, I think I may have discovered exactly how this works. When you’re truly grateful, there simply isn’t room left for any negative thoughts. I’ve been experimenting with the use of gratitude to counter typically stressful situations and it’s proving to be really effective. A few of my recent trials might give you some ideas on how you can bring some extra gratitude into your life.

I was recently paying bills. Instead of thinking about the “cost” of things, I took a few minutes to think about what each bill really represented. Holding the gas bill, I thought “I’m really lucky that I have a nice home. This was a cold winter but it was always nice and toasty inside. There are a lot of people on the streets without a roof over their head.” I happily paid that bill!

I was at the gym the other day and trying a new lift. My performance wasn’t living up to my expectations for myself. I stopped a second and thought “I’m here working out instead of sitting on the couch. I’m a middle-aged guy but I’m in good shape and my health lets me do things that others can’t.” I shut down that gremlin and enjoyed the rest of my workout.

A few days ago, I finished our taxes. (You’ll need to put your politics aside for a few seconds on this one.) Everyone gets a little antsy when they see that final dollar amount being sent to the government. I thought about all the good that money does though; we’re protected, educated, fed and cared for in our old age. We have roads to drive on, safe food and people working for the general good. I felt I was getting my money’s worth.

Yesterday, I was at the dentist getting my teeth cleaned. As the hygienist was poking and prodding, I was thinking “I’m glad she’s good at her job. I’m lucky that I can go to a dentist office where they’re so skilled yet affordable. In a few minutes, my teeth are going to be shiny and clean again.” Before I knew it, she was done and the typical dentist chair uneasiness never popped up.

These are just a few examples of how the simple act of being grateful can lessen stress or other negative feelings. So, the next time the dog eats your shoe, be thankful you had the extra shoe sitting around. When the paper boy leaves the paper in the wrong spot, be thankful you live in a place where you’re educated and have open access to information. When the waitress accidentally brings the wrong meal, think about how you have the luxury of being served. Be grateful for every little thing you have and you won’t have much time for anything negative.

Photo credit: Joe Fakih Gomez / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

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