Ever hear of Nick Vujicic? He is the man born without arms or legs who has helped write some of the youth curriculum I use with the John Maxwell Team. Nick once said, "Often people ask how I manage to be happy. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude."
Zig Ziglar, an author and speaker, once said, "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."
Both of these men understood that gratitude is a key to well-being and living well. Gratitude positively influences your emotional and even physical health.
Fox, a researcher at USC, found that gratitude links to brain structures which in turn is tied to social connection, stress relief, and feelings of reward. Gratitude actually kicks in more oxytocin, a feel good chemical in the brain.
Research has shown gratitude is tied to general well-being, better sleep, increased metabolism, more generosity, and less depression among other things. That's a lot of good stuff for just appreciating what you have.
Appreciating people and things in your life and expressing that, can lead to even more happiness. The opposite, complaining and never appreciating what you have, contributes to a negative mindset, poor attitude, and negative behaviors.
In our fast paced society, I think we set our focus on what's ahead and where can we go and what can we get. While there is nothing wrong with goal setting and looking forward, we have to be careful that we don't lose touch with the here and now and all that we have in this moment or gained from moments already gone.
Wouldn't it be nice if your family developed more of an attitude of gratitude? Wouldn't it be great if they go into Christmas with a spirit of appreciation for all that they already have? I know in our family we are trying to make sure we find and appreciate the good stuff each day. It’s amazing what we take for granted until we stop and reflect.
You might want to try adding some opportunities for your family to stop and reflect on gratitude on a regular basis.
Consider a "What went well" discussion at the dinner table. Everyone can share something that went well for them during the day.
Or, create a gratitude group chat with your family. Each day you all text the group chat something you are thankful for. This is great for families with kids at college or even to include extended family members.
Whatever you decide, do something. Be intentional and take the time to help your family look for reasons to be grateful. Having more gratitude will help your family shift from what they feel like they are lacking to realizing the abundance and blessings they already have.
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