The sentimental (but nonetheless wise) song “Count your Blessings” – about being grateful for what you have – is one I will always associate with my grandmother. She had lost her husband in the war and never had a home of her own. She followed my grandfather around the world as a navy wife, and as a widow lived with assorted friends and relatives before moving in with my newly married parents to look after their household and – in due course – me.
I think for a long time she harboured hopes my grandfather might return as he had been lost at sea, only presumed drowned. But my lovely gentle grandmother never complained about what she had lost or missed out on, instead she was always grateful for what she had.
I wish I had learned that lesson from her when I was growing up rather than learning it later in life through painful experience.
Those painful experiences eventually taught me that appreciating and being grateful for what I have, rather than hankering after what I don’t have, makes me feel better about life generally.
There is plenty of research confirming that people who cultivate gratitude are happier and healthier – see https://bit.ly/gratitude-good-for-you.
For one thing, it’s hard to be negative when you’re feeling grateful. The good feelings associated with gratitude carry over into your daily life and create a more positive attitude and help to reduce stress.
Perhaps like me you find that gratitude doesn’t come easily. Good news – experts say it’s a habit we can learn. One suggested strategy is keeping a gratitude journal which provides a discipline and helps to focus the mind on what we have to be thankful for.
So it’s official: cultivating an attitude of gratitude – focusing on the things that we have, expressing appreciation to others – improves our wellbeing and satisfaction with life, reduces stress levels and makes us more resilient. When we’re overwhelmed by work and life this is the just kind of lifeline we need!
As this habit isn’t too time-consuming and has multiple benefits, why not try it if you don’t already count your blessings?
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