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About a year ago, a dear friend gifted me a ‘A Year of Gratitude Journal’. The gift was a huge blessing. It had instructions on the inside that invited one into a year of giving thanks.

Each week of the year I was to send someone a card of thankfulness. My experience brought to my attention how easy it is to take people and moments for granted.

Time moves so quickly that it is easy to forget all of the blessings bestowed upon one’s life over a year’s period of time. I learned a lot about gratitude and how doing this project affected my personal life.

Kingdom Fuel - Drs. Mark & Michele Sherwood

Thankfulness lends the feeling of gratitude.

Gratitude is the feeling of being thankful and showing appreciation for what is in our lives. Thankfulness and appreciation are pathways to a life of happiness and well-being. When you pause and recognize all of the wonderful things in your life, you feel happier.

Appreciation keeps us focused on what is already good in our lives, and opens up the doorway to more goodness to flow into our lives. Living a life of thankfulness and gratitude does make your life better in the following ways…

  1. Better health – Thankfulness/gratitude have been linked to better physical health; It is hard to be bitter and grateful at the same time. When you lay down to sleep at night your mind can rest easy and this lends better sleep and reduces stress. Grateful people take better care of themselves and are thankful for the health they have been given.
  2. Increased self-control – When you’re faced with a challenging situation simply stopping and thinking of something you’re grateful for should enhance your ability to make a wiser decision. With gratitude and thankfulness at the forefront of our mind set, it is hard to behave impulsively and be self-destructive.
  3. Improved happiness – Grateful people are happier. You can’t be grateful and negative at the same time. When we shift our mind to gratefulness, happiness follows. Counting your blessings puts you in a positive and uplifting mood and spreads a smile on your face. Recognizing things we have been taking for granted brings a lightness of heart and a content and quiet mind.
  4. A greater impact – We have all been given talent, and a light to shine on the world. If we live from a place of gratitude and thankfulness that light burns bright. When life knocks you down, continue to practice gratitude. Things won’t stay the same and greater health ensues when stressful times are met with a grateful heart. When you’re grateful you focus more on opportunities than on the failures, their consequences and are less likely to get stuck in their setbacks.
  5. Deeper relationships – Gratitude has the power to deepen your social bonds and connections with others. When you live in a state of gratitude, you have better relationships with your peers, friends, and loved ones. It also enhances your ability to form and nurture relationships, as your friends and family members experience the positive vibes of your appreciation for them and for life. Your energy changes when you’re grateful. No one wants to be around a downer person. In a single moment you can extend a thankful or a grateful comment.
  6. More satisfaction – Grateful people are more satisfied with their lives because they focus more on the blessings they have instead of the things that they lack. Gratitude by its nature brings satisfaction. Love the life you have been given. It is the only one you have. You choose in the moment to make life bright or dark. Simply saying thank you brings on a sense of satisfaction.
  7. You motivate others – When you say “thank you” to someone, they feel that you appreciate what you did for them, even if just a little bit. Saying “thank you” is therefore a powerful motivator for others to keep helping you again. I found that people love to be appreciated. A simple thank you can mean a lot in someone’s day. Sending out a card once a week for 52 weeks brought back many favorable responses and joy from other people. I also did not realize how much I was cherished and loved.
  8. You become less materialistic – Things don’t buy personal happiness, and you can’t take things to heaven with you. Spontaneous thankfulness for what you have allows your cup to run over. You will realize that you already have all that you need.
  9. Improved relationships – When you’re more grateful and generous to the people who you care most about, your relationships improve. Not only will they feel more appreciated by you, but when they feel more appreciated and cared for, they’ll reflect positive feelings back towards you. As opposed to taking each other for granted, when you truly appreciate your significant other, your relationships, your family, the world goes around more beautifully.
  10. You improve others’ lives – When you encourage others and support their cause it has some remarkable effects. It turns out that individuals who are grateful are happier, experience less volatile emotions, and feel that life is more meaningful to them.

You might also enjoy: Mom’s Top 10 Character Development Tips

Gratitude is an emotion that’s worth cultivating as it will make your life better.You will grow by leaps and bounds. Your relationships will thrive, and you will shine from the inside out as your life becomes richer, not with money, but with things that money can’t buy.

I am grateful for the friend that gifted me this idea. I am going to pay it forward by giving this gift to one of my grieving patients and ask for feedback at the end of the year! Thankfulness and an attitude of gratefulness changed by life.