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Gratitude 101: How to Master It and Reap Its Rewards


Learning Gratitude

Want to bolster productivity?
Increase optimism?
Improve resiliency?
Step up your career?
Strengthen relationships?

In other words, how can you be happier and get more out of life?

Learn, practice, and master the art of gratitude. Gratitude is an attitude and a critical life skill that pays all these dividends. Sadly, it is also a lost art in our age of entitlement and instant gratification. These days, whatever you do and wherever you go, there always seems to be something to complain about. The good news is, you can cultivate gratitude, even master it, and reap its many rewards.

The art of gratitude
These four words basically sum up the secret to cultivating gratitude: “Want what you have.”

Gratitude, or thankfulness, comes in many forms. It’s there when you count your blessings, recognize simple pleasures, treat each day as if it were a miracle, and shift your focus from what you don’t have to what you do have.

While the first lesson in Gratitude 101 comes when you teach your child to say “thank you” whenever he or she receives something, it is by no means the be-all and end-all of true gratefulness. Saying “thank you” and “appreciate it” merely indicates polite behavior. That’s all well and good – but gratitude is much more than good manners or courteous responses. It’s an attitude that, when practiced and mastered, becomes an essential part of your character. It allows you to be grateful not just during good times, but also during hardships and disappointments.

The practice of gratitude
While being grateful is not something you do but something you are, there are nevertheless a number of steps you can take to nurture and cultivate this attitude, including:

Imagining – Look at your day-to-day world and imagine something precious being taken away (your health? your home? your sight?). Now imagine it being restored. Will you ever again take anything for granted?

Journaling – Keep a gratitude journal and everyday, write down one, two, three or more things that you are thankful for.

Complimenting – Show your appreciation to at least one person a day – whether it’s the cashier, the gardener, the police officer, and of course your spouse and family. Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

Accepting – Promise to go for one week without complaining or criticizing. Then make it two weeks, then three, then a month. If you keep it up, you’ll soon find this laudable trait ingrained in you.

Writing – Write a sincere thank you letter to someone who has positively influenced your life or done something good for you. Go further and ask to meet this person so you can properly express your gratitude face to face. Or, how about reviving the lost art of writing thank-you notes?

Learning – Faced with adversity or difficulty? Hard or nearly impossible as it is, take this as means to find new opportunities, to change your life’s directions, to learn a lesson, to be a stronger person. Ask yourself, “What good can come out of this?”

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