Today is 9/11. My heart and prayers go out to those who lost someone on that fateful day eleven years ago.
I’m extremely grateful that I didn’t lose anyone that day, nor do I know anyone who lost someone. But on 9/11 of every year, I’m reminded of how fragile things can be, and how life as we know it can change in a matter of minutes, even seconds.
This day, more so than Thanksgiving, reminds me to take a moment and be grateful, for family and friends, for my health, for the abundance in my life, for the random acts of kindness from strangers, for clean air, water…
I wish I could say that I practice gratitude every day, but the truth is, life gets busy, and things come up, so there are days when I just can’t muster up the energy or the optimism to find things to be grateful for.
I know you have those days too.
But did you know that those are precisely the days when we need to practice gratitude the most?
Here are 10 reasons why gratitude is the shortest, most direct route to happiness and/or peace.
1. It reminds us of the truly important things in life.
Maybe you had a really bad day at work, or maybe your kids made a mess of things and now you have to clean up, for the fifth time today. But it’s hard to complain too much when you are thankful that your kids are healthy and active, or that you have kids at all, or have a job so you can keep them happy and healthy.
2. It helps us navigate a difficult situation.
Sometimes gratitude doesn’t lead you to happiness, but it can help you see a situation in a slightly better light. When my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer, I was so grateful that I had had coach training so I could help her find as much peace and courage as possible in an extremely difficult situation.
3. It keeps us from repeating mistakes.
When you’re in a frustrating situation, looking for something to be thankful for allows you to step back enough to see the lesson that you need to learn, versus being consumed by your emotions, like anger or frustration or overwhelm.
4. It improves our overall health.
According to research conducted by Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, and more willingness to work out.
5. It strengthens our relationships.
Imagine if your partner or spouse or friend offered a sincere “thank you” to you for everything you do, instead of the “Well, it’s not like I don’t work hard around here” tune. Would you become kinder, more patient, and more loving? The same works for them as well.
6. It spreads happiness.
When you offer heartfelt gratitude to someone, for even a seemingly small act of kindness, it can make a huge difference in that person’s life. Let them know that their kindness didn’t go unnoticed. Put a smile on their face. Pay it forward by making this world a happier place.
7. It reminds us that we are always supported, that we’re NOT alone.
When I’m really down, and I’m looking for reasons to be grateful for, I often start with the most basic things, like air and water and gravity. Know that at this moment you’re supported by planet Earth, by the air you’re breathing, by the clean water you have access to, by the chair you’re sitting in, by your bed, by the dairy farmer who raised the cow that produced the milk you’re drinking…not to mention the people who love and support you.
8. It reminds us that we are already abundant in many ways.
It’s easy to get into the “I want more, bigger, better” mode. There is nothing wrong with expansion and growth, but also remember to take time to notice and enjoy what you already have. You may discover that what you have is already enough, and that you can spend your time pursuing other dreams.
9. It reminds us to live in the present moment.
Being grateful returns us to the present moment, to notice the sunset, to look at the clouds in the sky, to smell the grass after the rain, to enjoy the time you have with yourself even if you are sitting in traffic…and the present moment is the only moment you will ever have.
10. It lifts us up and reminds us that happiness can be found anywhere if we simply look.
Neil Pasricha started The 1000 Awesome Things Blog after his marriage ended and his best friend committed suicide. It was his attempt to feel better during a very hard time. And he went on to inspire millions of people. Here is his talk at TEDx Toronto. I can’t think of a better note to end this blog post on.
How can you make gratitude a part of your daily life?
Share in the comments below!