By Shelley Klausen
I’m sitting in the Bean Cafe watching the ferry cam on a beautiful June weekend in Friday Harbor, Washington. With my laptop in tow, I’m hoping the writing gods will send divine inspiration by way of my new favorite warm drink, a London Fog. Writing a blog about gratefulness is both cathartic and daunting. Most times I’m very aware of what inspires and fulfills me. In stressful times, the little nuggets of joy are harder to muster. But I’m a “glass half full” kind of gal, and between sips of my calming lavender-scented drink, the idea that leading a grateful life is, in itself, a reason to be thankful brings thoughts to paper.
Here are 10 reasons I am blessed to acknowledge gratitude today:
1. Thankfulness improves my relationships
Everyone has a need and desire to be appreciated—spouses, children, parents, friends, coworkers, even the strangers we meet in passing. I love this quote from American Author 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” When I express gratitude for my fellow humans, I not only lift their spirits, but I improve the quality of my relationship with them.
2. Thankfulness leads to my contentment
Media messages are constantly telling us to buy more, do more, look like this, or act like that. With so much distraction, it can be difficult to appreciate what you have right now. When I make a choice to be grateful, I can ignore these messages and embrace contentment. Leave it to Gandhi to say it best: “Man falls from the pursuit of the ideal of plan living and high thinking the moment he wants to multiply his daily wants. Man’s happiness really lies in contentment.”
3. Thankfulness makes me feels good
You know how happy we all feel around Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday-see my November 2018 Blog)? I have found that I can continue to feel this way long after the turkey and dressing are digested and distant memory. How? All I have to do is count my blessings and turn my heart and thoughts toward gratitude. When I do, warm and fuzzy feelings follow.
4. Thankfulness leads to my better health
“Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress,” says University of California Davis Psychology Professor Robert Emmons. He goes on to explain that gratitude and optimism can even boost our immune system. When I stop focusing on what I’ve lost, and begin to focus on everything I do have, my posture improves, my brain de-fuzzes, and I am more able to invite peace and patience into my life.
5. Thankfulness cultivates humility in me
Arrogance and ungratefulness go hand and hand. But the opposite is also true. When I choose to be thankful for the big and small blessings in my life, and rid myself of negative influences and feelings, I can more ably foster a heart of humility and spirit of graciousness.
6. Thankfulness is contagious
Just as fear and worry are contagious, so is the spread of gratitude. When I’m inspired by others’ gratefulness, it prompts my own thankful thoughts and actions as well. I realize that I can be the catalyst that spreads gratitude in my home, interactions with guests, or even in my online world.
7. Thankfulness makes me a more positive person
When I’m thankful, the natural byproduct is that I become a more positive person. Believe it or not, there are daily annoyances that can bring me down and sap my joy. But when I’m intentionally thankful, it naturally redirects my thoughts to see the good in other people and the world at large.
8. Thankfulness promotes my generous spirit
It’s tough to be a giver when my eye turns inward to my own material needs. When I’m thankful for all that I have, I can freely give to others. And when we realize how abundantly we are blessed, we can confidently and joyfully become a blessing to others.
9. Thankfulness can increase my likability
It’s fair to say no one wants to be around an ungrateful, entitled individual. Yet we all enjoy spending time with grateful, down-to-earth folks. When I am grateful, people around me see me in a more positive light and naturally want to be around me.
10. Thankfulness displays the best of me
Like I said, in the hustle and bustle of a busy work life as an innkeeper at the Tucker House Inn and Harrison House Suites and the stressful times of personal life, it’s easy for me to lose sight of thankful living. It is a daily discipline to remind myself of the many reasons I have to be grateful. It is an exercise in discomfort. It doesn’t allow for deflection or excuse-making. When I choose to see the blessings of all that I have, the beauty and surrounds me and the good in others, then the best of me shines through.
Surrounding myself in thankfulness is a choice. I’m learning there is a responsibility that comes with this privilege. That I am blessed to bless. Gifted to give. It’s easy to see my London Fog as half empty in tough times. But just by reminding myself that choosing gratefulness will refill my vessel with the blessings of thankfulness, then life gets good again.
May your cup runneth over…