Every year, for at least one or two days, the holidays remind and encourage us to give thanks, display appreciation, and express gratitude. Other holidays, birthdays, graduations, achievements, and events also provide reasons to recognize and appreciate people and circumstances. Yet, studies have shown that a on a day to day basis, a vast majority of people seldom express gratitude for the blessings in their lives.
One can easily point to the influences of negativity in the news, politics, and stress. But is that not blaming others for their ability to influence our happiness? Of course it’s easy to lose our appreciation in the face of hardships or loss. But we can also use those challenges to make us stronger and more determined to make the rest of our lives the best of our lives!
In the studies of Positive Psychology, history’s greatest philosophers, and most religions, gratitude has been pointed to as a primary ingredient for happiness - not only gratitude for what one has, but especially in expressing appreciation to others. Positive recognition, sincere appreciation, and acts of kindness to others have been proven to return greater rewards than those given. Gratitude is often pointed to as the source of increased health, energy, confidence, improved relationships, and career success. The quality of being thankful is a ‘Give More-Get More’, Win-Win situation!
Still, the questions remain: How do we maintain an attitude of gratitude throughout the year? And how might we encourage some of our more gratitude-challenged associates to lighten-up and be happier - for all of our sake?
For ourselves, it begins with an awareness of our attitude. The recognition that there is room for improvement is a big step in the right direction. Of course it’s easier to feel grateful when things are going well. The challenge is to realize the good that surrounds us when we are feeling confronted by difficulties.
A few suggestions: Our minds have amazing abilities that few people are aware of. Trust in your power to overcome any challenge that is thrown in your path. Millions of people have been knocked down before you who got back up, and you can too. Post a few positive notes around your home reminding you of what’s good in your life. It can be as simple as “feel the sun, appreciate the rain, smell the flowers”, a picture of a happy child or playful puppy, or a drawing of a smiley face, if it will help to remind you to smile more. Positive affirmations, such as “I am healthy and fit” or “I am attracting money and opportunities now” can help to improve ones thoughts related to solving personal issues.
Personally, I have hand-written notes in my work area and my home which say “Help others to get what they want” and “Make Today Your Day.” My goals, photos, encouraging quotes, a few small toys, and real-looking million-dollar bills are also in plain view.
Sometimes it takes just one ‘Creative Spark’ to change a life from average to awesome!
As for the attitudes of others… we can’t fix everybody, but we can inspire and influence enough to make a difference in some lives, which in turn improves ours. Smiling makes an astonishing difference! Sincere compliments, a touch of humor, speaking encouragingly, an act of kindness, a few minutes of attention, or a donation of your time to charity, will create ripples which make a difference in our world.
Open your heart and mind to feel what the holidays are really about. The more you express kindness to others, the more you will feel grateful for all that you have in your life. As you carry that attitude of gratitude forward, beyond the holidays, prepare yourself to receive in return an increase of energy, faith, health and happiness to become even more grateful for.
Wishing You Happy Holidays, Peace & Love, Kindness & Happiness, and an Attitude of Gratitude throughout the year.
Gratefully, Scott Howard
Scott Howard is a dynamic ‘Creatively Inspiring’ motivational speaker and educational storyteller for children of all ages (www.ScottHowardSpeaks.com), the creator of the amazing “Artsy Ant Alphabet Art Adventures” book (www.ArtsyAntBook.com), and a successful graphic designer and illustrator (www.MyScottArt.com).
As a speaker, artist and author, Scott has worked with children’s charities, fundraisers, causes and services that benefit children’s health, education, and encourage positive child development.