Finding Gratitude in the Daily Grind

Uncategorized Dec 02, 2020

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” —Oprah Winfrey

As Thanksgiving approaches, we traditionally spend the day giving thanks for our bounty. We gather and celebrate with family and friends, we prepare a lavish meal with customary favorites of turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, and gravy. We imbibe in fancy libations, and gorge ourselves to the gills with delectable desserts like pumpkin, apple and pecan pie. This is followed by a tryptophan induced couch coma and watching some good ole fashioned American football. While this is a noble idea, my question is what are we doing the other 364 days of the year? Let’s investigate some research on the topic, then see how we can engage in appreciation more consistently.

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation. This prominently proves that you are where your attention is. If you focus on the negativity in your life, you create more of the same. According to Will Bowen, bestselling author of “A Complaint-Free World,” the average person complains between 15 to 30 times daily. This doesn’t include all the self-deprecating internal dialogue we engage in, just the stuff we mutter out loud. Maybe we complain because our real life reality isn’t measuring up to our “expectations?” I believe it was Shakespeare who said “expectation is the root of all heartache?” What would happen if we just loved what is? What if we practiced being a neutral observer of our life experiences, then pondered how we can learn to appreciate it no matter what? You see you cannot be in lack and gratitude at the same time. The more time you spend in gratitude, the more you draw positive energy to you. When you focus on anything at all, it’s like a call goes out into the universe summoning whatever it is you are thinking about. It’s a frequency. When you tune into the pop station at 98.7 on the dial you won’t be hearing oldies songs from the 50’s. You get what you tune into

I can attest that at times, living in gratitude can be a monumental task. The year of 2020 has particularly made finding gratitude in the daily grind more challenging than ever. I mean unemployment is skyrocketing, the music business is being decimated with touring at a standstill, radio is bludgeoning local talent replacing it with national voice tracking talent, and covid-19 runs supreme wreaking havoc on small businesses and families trying to navigate working from home, with their kids virtual learning, and worrying about their aging parents being alone. Not to mention politics and the economy. WTF do we have to cherish exactly?

This situation calls for fun exercises, like flip the script or pretend it's the opposite day. These are my go-to tools to catapult myself out of a funk and into admiring my life as it is this moment. Let’s try a few scenarios so you get the hang of it. I’ve known several people who kicked cancer’s ass and were grateful they got the disease. SAY WHAT??? Thanks for getting cancer??? Yep, it shifted their perspective on how they were living their lives in the fast lane, without regard to how they were treating their body, and not living in the moment or relishing in their relationships. It sure as hell is a reality check to be grateful for being healthy. Why is it we never value our health until we are sick? How about paying bills? Are you stoked to watch your checking account dwindle away when your monthly autopay’s are withdrawn? Do you acknowledge that paying that ridiculously high WIFI bill is actually helping educate your kids and keeping you connected with your parents, friends and colleagues through zoom calls? When showering or drinking water do you give thanks that it’s both cleansing and nourishing your body? There are places in the world where they don’t have access to clean water. How about payday? Do you celebrate getting paid? Have you ever kissed the cash you got out of nowhere? Would bend over to pick up a penny and be thankful you it’s now in your pocket? How about commuting in tons of traffic? Instead of cursing out the guy who cut you off, or complaining about why it’s taking forever, why not view it as time to listen to audible books or an inspiring podcast? Do you ever thank your car for getting you safely from point A to point B? I could go on and on, but I am certain you are getting the message. Until you appreciate what you do have, the Universe is reluctant to give you more. Yes, Thanksgiving is a joyful Holiday to celebrate being grateful…but so is today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. Thank you for taking time to read this column. I am humbled and grateful. I hope this served you as it has for me. After all, it’s always an Inside-Project.

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