Why is gratitude at the top of the Mood Elevator?
There are a few reasons, but the first one is that gratitude is an overriding emotion. It is almost impossible to be both grateful and depressed at the same time. There is a sense of calm, warmth, and happiness that comes with gratitude that overrides impatience, frustration, and anger. Gratitude is also a perspective and a decision- a decision to practice looking at what we do appreciate about our lives and other people versus looking at what we lack.
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” ~ Zig Ziglar
We all have plenty to be grateful for, as it states in the book “The Mood Elevator”. Consider this: The fact that you are reading this book means you are devoting time to thinking about self-actualization- to maximizing your potential and abilities to making your life as rich, rewarding, and meaningful as possible. By definition that means you are not focused on where your next meal is coming from or how you can put a roof over your head. In other words, you already have a lot going on for you.
While we all do have plenty to be grateful for, most of us aren’t. Most people go through our day focusing on the next thing on our to-do list or talking to others about how busy we are and how we wish our boss recognized us more. Looking at life through a gratitude perspective takes practice and a conscious effort to look at things in a positive light. However, the good news is that like anything else you practice, the more you work on being grateful- the easier it will come.
How can you practice gratitude? Here are a few tips from the book The Mood Elevator on how to contribute to an ongoing mind-set of gratitude.
- Writing in a journal as a way to record and reflect what you are grateful for. You can always write down family, health, etc. but try to focus on the little things: getting a green light when you were running late to a meeting, a really good breakfast, an extra big hug from your daughter. Training yourself to look at the little things will help you see more to be grateful for every day.
- Writing a Thank You Card, text, or email. It has been said that humans pass along only one out of every 30 good thoughts we have about others. Making a habit of generously sharing our appreciation for the people around us nurtures relationships and lifts the spirits of those on both the giving and receiving ends.
- In his book Flourish, Martin Seligman describes a simple exercise that he calls Three Blessings: once a day bring to mind three small things that lift your spirits.
- Create a practice within your family or workplace. Our family occasionally devotes a dinner to “what I appreciate about you”, in which we each share one thing we appreciate about another family member. This can work at home or within your team at work.
Practicing gratitude when things are good, will help you continue to do it when things aren’t so good. The gratitude perspective can be one of our most powerful tools for dealing with adversity in life. Maintaining gratitude will help you operate at your best, making it easier to find creative solutions to the toughest challenges.
Gratitude will not only help with your emotional well-being, practicing being grateful on a regular basis has a host of other benefits including: enhancing our immune system, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, and gratitude has also been shown to help heal faster. In addition, research by University of California, Davis psychology professor Robert A. Emmons indicates that “grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like exercise, a healthy diet, [and] regular physical examinations”.
I have a lot for which to be grateful, and I am grateful much of the time. However I do lose perspective regularly, but thanks to the tools of the Mood Elevator I can catch myself, and knowing it is there and accessible to me is a wonderful touchstone that makes my entire life much better.
What are you grateful for today?