The Many Ways Gratitude Makes Life Better

Meme of a lake in Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland, and the words: Gratitude Changes Everything.

We mention gratitude, or its cousin “luck”, in this house every day, never taking our circumstances for granted. It’s Thanksgiving weekend for our friends in the US where being grateful is the order of the day. The challenge: to keep that perspective all year long.

It’s easy to get caught up in problems. I know I have. But resilience in this unpredictable life comes from making gratitude the biggest piece of the attitude pie. It’s the reason why gratitude journaling has become so popular. It shifts the focus to what we have, not what we don’t have. And once you do, it becomes a habit that fuels a better life.

It’s not just about giving thanks. Gratitude has to be practiced all the time, not just on holidays or special occasions. Even when the power goes out or the dog pees on the floor or someone hits you in traffic. It’s not a mood, it’s a world view.

In Canada, we have a lot. People in other parts of the world desperately wish for things we take for granted: clean water (for most of us), enough to eat, even indoor plumbing. We did little to earn these things except hit the lottery in where we were born.

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” Tony Robbins

Those who are (almost) up in arms over our country’s lack of freedom should either do some traveling to see how other people have to live. Or take a genuine inventory of their own life. I mean, come on. No freedom here? That’s unprovable by any metric. Have they even heard of Iran? The 2022 Global Freedom Index ranks Canada the 15th freest country in the world out of 184 nations. The U.S. is 25th. (Read more about how the index is determined HERE.)

A US poll finds a grateful outlook is a direct line to happiness. Two-thirds of people polled said they believe almost-daily happiness was a direct result of expressing gratitude. Incoming and outgoing gratitude was most likely to occur between spouses and partners.

From Positive Outlooks on Facebook

What I Have Learned.

Gratitude comes when you accept your own role in your life’s circumstances and stop blaming anyone else. Unless there was a gun to your head, you had choices, regardless of what factors led to them. Gratitude arrives when you realize that the universe doesn’t have it in for you. That bad stuff (and much worse stuff) happens to everybody. The grateful ones push through it toward the glimmer of light on the other side.

Gratitude sticks with you when it becomes obvious that a “why me” attitude makes you weak and a victim.

Gratitude becomes a habit when you finally believe that happiness is a choice. It’s not about money or problems or relationships. It’s been inside all along.

Check out this article in Forbes that makes a case for why grateful people always succeed.

Having Everything Changes Little

In Matthew Perry‘s memoir, he explains how he was sure that fame would fill the big hole in his soul. It did not. It’s true that he’d likely be dead now if not for his wealth. He estimates he spent $7-million on rehab and other addiction-related services. But none of it fixed his perspective on life. The feeling that he wasn’t enough or somehow broken. Those repairs only came after conscious decisions he made to be grateful.

I also recently finished reading And in The End, the unravelling of the Beatles as the 1960s came to a close. In it, each Beatle makes a comment about the trappings of wealth and fame. Remember, these four men were in their twenties when Beatlemania hit. With money came problems and complications, not to mention a huge tax burden in the UK. Employees at Apple wasted money, stole, and took advantage of the guys’ trusting nature.

Wealth doesn’t solve all your problems. It solves one problem. The rest remain.

And sometimes money doesn’t do much at all. Recently, I read the reaction of a man whose wife won $20,000 on a scratch ticket. “I wish it was more”, he said. “It would have been better if it was more.” From 0 to $20k in five minutes was lost on him. He still wanted more. Misery will follow him like a dark cloud until – and if – he finally realizes he’s the one who’s creating it.

My current fave gratitude example comes from daily, short videos on social media by Jesse Crosson, the Second Chancer. Here’s a man making the most of his life and helping others after spending 19 years in prison. He’s an inspiration. And I’m grateful for him.

13 thoughts on “The Many Ways Gratitude Makes Life Better”

  1. Lisa,
    Thank you for this posting. Some days it is hard to be grateful due to the people I work with. They always see the negative side of everything. They laugh at my grateful spirit. Some get it but most don’t. There is always something to be grateful for in everyday.
    Again, thank you – spread the word.

    1. That’s so true, Roberta. It’s a challenge to maintain when the environment is so negative. Pity them! Thanks for your comment.

  2. Gratitude is an attitude and it can start with a simple Thank You! Can’t remember where I heard that saying but it was a long time ago and it has stuck with me over the years. Even today, I still say thank you to the bus driver when they let me off at my stop as I exit, it’s a habit.

  3. You mentioned something that I have thought about for years when you said “Those who are up in arms over our country’s lack of freedom should do some traveling to see how other people have to live.” Years ago I read that a small percentage of Americans have a passport and wondered if those who did only traveled to see London or Paris because they read about them, or did any go to Cuba and Mexico resorts and actually leave the resort and explore the nearby communities. You get a real education in poverty and culture. What I bring back from these trips is gratitude that lasts and lasts and I have a new perspective even when I go into Zehrs and see the different displays of fresh fruit and vegetables and meat. And, I get angry when I see the “convoy” protesters or the Trump “fans” and wonder if their small minds ever leave their small neighbourhoods. I so totally agree with Allan that saying thank you is easy and usually brings a smile to the recipient. Thanks Lisa for a nice post.

  4. Lisa, thank you SO much for your timely blog. May I also add that if you start practicing gratitude when things are okay, it makes it easier to practice it when life takes a deep dive and you wonder what the heck happened.
    This Christmas/Hanukkah there will be many struggling due to all that’s happened in this world. Being grateful and sharing that optimism may just be the invisible 🎁 you give to someone this season.

  5. It really is about attitude and perspective. When I look around and hear, see, people concentrating and rebelling about the one thing they don’t have, or the one thing they believe was unjustly taken from them, I almost feel sorry for them. Almost. It’s a shame when our gift of sight is used to focus on seeing the negatives. I grew up hearing the stories my parents told us kids about what it was like living in the old country during the war. No food, no shelter, no safety. When they finally set foot on Canadian soil with nothing but a suitcase and four kids, (I was born here) they thought they hit the jackpot. They never forgot poverty, but the wealth of freedom in our country is something they taught us to be grateful for…always. Before I was taught how to say, “momma or dadda”, I was taught the word RESPECT. I’ll forever be grateful for that life lesson.
    Thanks for a great read, Lisa.

    1. Thanks, Claire! I will never, ever understand protests about feeling inconvenienced. We’ve all been inconvenienced! It’s just that some of us are wearing our grown-up pants and understand that discomfort is part of looking after the greater good. Sigh.

  6. Another awesome post! I am grateful at this moment for your wisdom.
    The beginning of gratitude for me, I think, was when I started to learn empathy — which requires imagination to picture how other people might be feeling. People need to get outside of their own heads to see how good they have it!
    I could concentrate all my energy and attention on my multiple chronic health problems, but the truth is I am the luckiest person on this planet!

    1. I agree, empathy is a massive part of gratitude. If you can put yourself in someone else’s life, hypothetically, you can gain an immense appreciation for your own. Thanks, Dan.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *