The best things in life are free. It is important that we never lose that awareness. So look around you. Wherever you see friendship, loyalty, laughter, or love, there is your treasure.

We are given 24 golden hours every day. They are one of the few things in this world that we get free of charge. Even if we have all the money in the world, we could not buy an extra hour. So what will we do with this priceless treasure? We could make the best of it and be grateful for the gift.

Gratitude is like a human muscle. The more we use it, like faith, the stronger it grows, and the more power we have to use it on our behalf. If we do not practice gratefulness, its benefaction will go unnoticed, and our capacity to draw on its gifts will be diminished.

We can find blessings in everything that happens to us, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than our current situation. This is the most powerful attitude to adopt, for there are blessings in everything.

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. It makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates hope and vision for tomorrow. It allows us to amplify the good things, the good people in our lives and even the goodness in us.

UC Davis, researcher, Robert Emmons, PhD, in his book, Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, showed clearly in his research that we can strengthen our ability to recognize the gifts in life by practicing gratitude. Let us discuss some of them:

We can, over time, learn to better notice the beauty around us and to identify ourselves in that beauty. We can learn how to slow down and savor the goodness. There is so much beauty around us to relish and enjoy.

It’s not happy people who are thankful; it’s thankful people who are happy.

We learn to recognize not only the gift, but also the giver. We grow to  understand that many people have helped us along the way, providing us with what we could not do for ourselves. We no longer take people for granted; we realize that we are deeply connected with the people in our past and present; that they have helped bring us where we are today.

Gratitude is more than just a feeling. We can experience it just by being grateful. Practicing gratitude is an overall approach to life. We are learning to see through a different perspective; a perception of abundance rather than scarcity. We can’t be anxious, (envious, angry, worried, etc.) and grateful at the same time. Gratitude is an attitude consciously cultivated; an orientation, which can eventually become a habit.

Charles M. Shelton, Ph.D., has developed a daily examination of the gifts and blessings in our lives by writing encode positive experiences in our memory. Breaking down the day's events in different categories, helps us become more aware of our blessings:

The Everyday:
Enjoy your senses. During holidays and special occasions, taste the varieties of food, lovingly prepared; delight in the tiny white lights strung along the streets; revel in the deep winter colors, the sumptuous velvets and rich brocades. Savor the beauty of the world around you.

People and Relationships:
We gather with friends and family during the holidays and special occasions and feel deeply connected with those we love. We feel a sense of belonging. We go out at night; we visit each other in our homes; we dress up and go out on the town, we enjoy good entertainment.

The Big Picture:
As you focus on your life, take the long view. This is a good time to reflect over the past year. Focus on what was good. Was there a difficult situation you handled well? Was there an experience that helped you to grow? Did you receive an insight or an understanding that changed you for the better?

Taking in the Good:
Another suggested gratitude practice has been developed by Berkeley researcher, Rick Hansen, Ph.D. The practice of taking in the good, uses your mind to change your brain to change you for the better. It has been shown that practicing gratitude actually changes the brain chemistry.

Let us look for positive facts and let them become positive experience; let ourselves feel good if we get something done, if someone is nice to us, or if we notice a good quality in ourselves.

The good news is, the more we practice gratitude, the more often we experience it and the deeper we experience it. Being thankful is a choice we can make in any given moment. Let us take the time to relish and savor the gifts in our lives every chance we have.

Related page: Gratitude Lightens Our load

    By Tim Pedrosa

 

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Today, you should celebrate what an unbelievable life you have had so far: the accomplishments, the many blessings, and, yes, even the hardships because they have served to make you stronger. Just as a gem cannot be polished without friction, nor can a life be perfected without trials. Take some time to acknowledge your life and to praise yourself.–Unknown

Tim