To cultivate an attitude of gratitude starts with being able to see the positive. Of course, some things are obviously a plus – like a free lunch, a beautiful day, a perfect parking spot or an unexpected check in the mail. It’s easy to be grateful for those little moments that bring us joy.
What’s a little more difficult is being able to see the good in an adverse situation. Sometimes you might feel like everything’s going wrong. You don’t have enough to pay the credit card bill this month. Your child got in trouble in school today. You had to say goodbye to a beloved pet. The checkout lines at Wal-mart seemed to take forever.
More and more, it seems like people are ready to jump in with a criticism or negative remark. We have the social media outlets for immediate gratification. Someone got on your last nerve today? Broadcast it on Facebook and talk about how angry you feel and how they inconvenienced you.
Try to accentuate the positive in these situations.
The credit card bill went up, but it’s only because you had to get the car fixed. At least now the car will be running smoothly so you can get where you need to go. At least you have a credit card. Some people aren’t even allowed to borrow money from banks. You know you’ll do a good job getting this paid off in a timely fashion.
Your child got in trouble at school, but he or she has responded positively to correction. You know that tomorrow is another day, and a chance to do better. You’ve handled the problem responsibly and fairly, and didn’t fly off the handle. You’re doing the right thing as a parent, and your hard work will pay off in the long run.
You lost your best friend – the family dog. But he was up there in years, and poor health had taken its toll on his quality of life. Now your precious pup is in a better place, and free of pain. It hurts to say goodbye, but time heals all. The dog had a good life. You’ll cherish the memories.
Yes, the lines at Wal-mart seemed to take forever today. But you still got what you needed, you saved money, and you made it out of there in time to get to your appointment. So, not a bad day on the whole!
Exercise: Find the Pearl.
Discover the positive in a negative experience.
Next time you feel like complaining, stop and consider if it’s justified. Instead of letting one minor annoyance become a giant gripe session or self-pity-fest, take the difficulty for what it is: something that, while irritating, also made you think and perhaps even caused you to learn something.
A better and more productive exercise for the long term might just be to teach yourself to see the good even through the hard times and petty annoyances of daily life.
A flat tire made you late for work? Yes, but a nice person stopped to offer roadside assistance. You didn’t get into a car wreck. You needed new tires anyway, and now you can check this task off your list.
You gained five pounds on your so-called diet? Yes, but you threw some wonderful family parties and cooked delicious food, and you’ll do better with your weight loss goals starting on Monday.
Journal it. Surely there will be at least one thing that gets on your nerves each day. Instead of slipping into a pessimistic mindset, search for the underlying lesson. What did you learn? What good thing may come of this experience? Having an attitude of gratitude means digging deeper to find the gold.