Sunday Snippet: The Gratitude Anecdote
I often share with my own children that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to what happens. Like many words of wit, this is an easy concept to share, but a difficult one to put into action. A driver cuts in front of another car, a store clerk is rude, a person interrupts an important conversation – these are all common occurrences that for many of us end in a reaction that they are insensitive and we are not deserving of such treatment. The challenge lies in trying to reframe the context behind these events in our lives.
Perhaps the annoying driver is actually trying to get to a sick or injured family member; the store clerk is exhausted as this is the third job they have worked this day; the person didn’t hear the conversation and needs an answer to a critical question. More often than not we lack the full context of why something happens to us, yet we react as we have every detail – often negatively. We might also have our own context that is shading our understanding of our perception of the incident. Maybe we had an argument with a close friend or family member; Maybe we a financial crisis that may be hard to resolve; or maybe a work conflict is creating excessive stress. Our own context infiltrates our reactions to things seemingly unrelated all the time.
Let’s go back to the original equation – 10% what happens and 90% of our response. That means that only 10% of what is occurring is out of our hands. We have the ability (if we choose to accept it!) to control 90% of this situation! But how can we do that?? Gratitude!
“The quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful” is the definition of gratitude according to Dictionary.com. It is a feeling that we get to choose! We can choose gratitude in nearly every situation we encounter in our lives. And science is proving that it is good for our health and happiness. “In 2007, Robert Emmons began researching gratitude through a psychological lens. He found that expressing gratitude improves mental, physical, and relational well-being. Being grateful also impacts the overall experience of happiness, and these effects tend to be long-lasting.” (The Transformative Power of Gratitude, Dr. Randy Kamen, The Blog/HuffPost, June 1, 2015). This article continues on to share…
The Benefits of Gratitude
- Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being
- Greater optimism and happiness,
- Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crises
- Increased self-esteem
- Heightened energy levels
- Strengthened heart, immune system, and decreased blood pressure
- Improved emotional and academic intelligence
- Expanded capacity for forgiveness
- Decreased stress, anxiety, depression, and headaches
- Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise
- Heightened spirituality — ability to see something bigger than ourselves
We live in a stressful world that imposes many impossible and irrational demands on us on a daily basis. We can choose to complain, whine, get frustrated over this mistreatment or so many other negative responses. But the sad truth is that these adverse & pessimistic reactions only add to the stress and agony we have chosen to experience – and they very seldom resolve the situation or conflict to our advantage. The most effective anecdote is to choose gratitude – finding the positive in the negative and be thankful for it. Although it is a bit more than simply shrugging and stated “well, it could be worse” and it does take practice to gain control over negative reactions to challenging situations. But the fact remains that our feelings ultimately are not chosen for us by some mystical force beyond our control, we have the ability and might I say, the responsibility to choose our feelings!
Here are some other articles of interest exploring gratitude and practices to bring more thankfulness to your life:
So… what are you grateful for today? Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week everyone!