We take so much for granted and it is only when something is taken away that we realise what we had.
Why do we allow complacency to set in?
Whether it’s being in a marriage, your children seeing their father on a daily basis, having a job or simply having good eyesight, we just assume these things are normal and part of daily life and so nothing worthy of appreciation.
Yet there are thousands of people the world over that don’t have these things.
They crave what others have.
“We take for granted how our mind puts everything together.”
Realising and appreciating what you have is a benefit in itself.
Just the fact that you are reading this right now on some kind of screen is something to appreciate.
The fact that I am hearing birdsong right now while typing this with two hands is worthy of acknowledgement.
Frederick Keonig was right when he once said:
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognising and appreciating what we do have.”
Becoming more mindful and grateful are two goals we should have. It is a key way of improving our overall wellbeing.
WebMD has reported that better immune health is linked to optimism, which is linked to gratefulness. A study at the University of Utah which compared the immune systems of healthy but stressed law students showed that students who were more optimistic had better immune systems (had more immune protecting blood cells) than those classmates that were more pessimistic.
“Being constantly mindful of all the things you have to be thankful for can boost your well-being, research suggests. In a series of experiments detailed in a 2003 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, daily exercise practices and listing off all the things you are thankful for are linked with a brighter outlook on life and a greater sense of positivity. “There do appear to exist benefits to regularly focusing on one’s blessings,” the researchers wrote in the study. “The advantages are most pronounced when compared with a focus on hassles or complaints, yet are still apparent in comparison with simply reflecting the major events in one’s life, on ways in which one believes one is better off than comparison with others, or with a control group.”
Source: “10 Reasons Why Gratitude Is Healthy” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/gratitude-healthy-benefits_n_2147182.html )
Robert Emmons, PHD, a Psychology Professor at the University of California, has been researching ‘Positive Psychology’, he is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude and has found that there are many health benefits for those that have a positive mindset and “attitude of gratitude”
In his article ‘Why Gratitude Is Good’ (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good/) he states that by studying over 1000 people aged between 8 and 80 years old, he and his team found numerous benefits to practicing gratitude, some of which include:
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.”
Emmons suggests that if you are more aware of yourself and the positives in your life, you are more likely to focus your attention on others and things outside of yourself.
Being mindful of what you have is important also because how you feel about what you have is what affects you rather than how much you actually have. People that are ‘richer’ materially than others aren’t always the happiest people.
Edward Diener, a Psychology Professor at the University of Illinois, found that “a high percentage of affluent people in Japan report low levels of life satisfaction, just as those living in poverty in India do.”
Bearing all of the benefits to being grateful in mind, how can we allow ourselves to focus on the negatives in our life?
Let’s take better care of ourselves, let’s look at what we have rather than what we don’t.
By being more grateful we allow ourselves to celebrate our present state, block negative emotions, refuse to allow stress to overcome us and therefore have a higher sense of self-worth.
I’ll leave you with the words of Melody Beattie:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”