Grant Montgomery: Choosing an Attitude of Gratitude

It is always our choice how we live our lives. We can look at each set of circumstances in a positive way or in a negative way. At the purely intellectual level‚ these two attitudes may seem ambivalent. But in real life, it makes a huge difference which we choose in any given situation. 

By choosing to maintain an attitude of gratitude, we are better assured of living a happy‚ healthy‚ successful life. And gratitude comes when you focus on all you have instead of dwelling on what you don’t have.

How preposterous for us, who are richer and consume 10 times the resources than 95 percent of the world’s people, who bask in personal freedom and opportunity, to focus on the “half-empty.”

Here’s some advice from Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside: Once a day, stop and appreciate what you’re able to do now that you weren’t last year (for example, think lock-down). You can make a mental note, tell your partner, text your friend or write it down in a journal. The method doesn’t matter, as long you’re making a deliberate effort to acknowledge that things have improved. This is a version of what psychologists call “savoring” — appreciating small things around us to try to increase happiness.  Practicing gratitude is linked to fewer health problems and less depression, better sleep and higher levels of happiness. Feeling thankful for the little pleasures in our lives can add up to make us happier people overall.

It is an accepted principle that “what we focus on expands.” If we spend most of our time thinking about what we don’t have‚ or how we wish our life was different‚ or what we just lost, that will expand—and we will have more loss‚ more lack, and more discontent with our current situation. If, on the other hand, we focus on what we have—food on the table, friends and/or family who care about us, the sunshine outside—that, too, will expand. Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It is impossible to feel worry, anger, depression, or any negative emotion of any kind in the presence of genuine gratitude. A beautiful sunny day and a dark, stormy day cannot occur in the same place at the same time. So does the practice of gratitude redirect our minds away from fear and toward the truth, clearing out all negativity, pain, and suffering.

Gratitude is a miraculous force, like a magical magnet‚ generating and then attracting so much more than we receive. It is like a living energy, clearing the way for us to become so much more than we have already experienced.

A preventative maintenance program for resignation, cynicism, and doubt: Every day, more than once, search your mind and heart for all that you have to be grateful for.

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