In the spirit of Thanksgiving and all the holidays that are coming up, I wanted to talk a little bit more about the attitude of gratitude. I find it hard to define gratitude as it is so much bigger than thinking or saying "thank you". I think of gratitude as an experience manifested by the power of positive feelings from our best selves - love, empathy, hope, humility, joy, peace, oneness and an overall feeling of being "blessed".
In the words of Melody Beattie, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
Because of our built in fight or flight response, our minds get stuck on negative thoughts and experiences in our lives like "velcro", while positive experiences and thoughts slip right away. If this is the case for you, gratitude journals and similar practices are super helpful for turning your attention toward the positives and helping them stick. Remember also that what you pay attention to grows. Reinforcing positive experiences and thoughts with the power of gratitude can be a game changer. This is even more important if you have ADHD; the negative thoughts, feelings and experiences can be even more intense and pervasive. The good news: gratitude can be cultivated by each of us with simple, consistent practice.
For more information, please read this article "In Praise of Gratitude" from Harvard Medical School which talks in detail about the research on gratitude and ways to cultivate gratitude.