Finding Happiness Through Gratitude
Imagine this, you have a 9 AM appointment for work and leave an hour early because it normally takes you 30-45 minutes. Now imagine getting on the freeway, only to realize there is a wreck. You get smart, and get your smartphone out, reroute yourself, only to find out the next freeway has a wreck, too. It’s Houston, y’all and there is rain, so of course the freeways are shutdown. I realized that I would likely miss my appointment (this never happens, y’all), and well there was nothing I could do about this. This is a time I would normally panic; my thoughts would go in a negative spiral, and I would make this about a flaw in my character instead of realizing it was just a bad situation, i.e. “I’m not good enough because I can’t make appointments on time.” Yet, something was different this time; this time I felt intense gratitude. I acknowledged my feelings, “Yup, this kind of sucks,” then I acknowledged there was nothing I can do about it, “my stressing will not magically clear the freeway.” I then did something I tell my clients to do, I took an action that was the opposite of my feeling- i.e. I was feeling stressed, so I turned my music way up. Hello, James Taylor- I have a strong belief that music should be appreciated decades later. If it is good music, it will stand the test of time; otherwise, it’s not worth my time. So imagine this, James Taylor Fire and Rain on, beautiful wintery rain coming down, and me stuck on the freeway. I felt an intense gratitude. Suddenly, everything in my world felt right. This situation wasn’t right, but gratitude for my life set in. Music is powerful, controlling thoughts is powerful, and doing the opposite of your urge is powerful. Guys, we can create gratitude during the most stressful situations! Read more about how we can experience gratitude in our daily life- Ya know, just some intentional living to make life more meaningful.
1. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness grounds us in the present and makes us appreciate the present moment in its simplicity! My favorite mindfulness activity is to sit on the front porch watching the rain come in. I take it in with all my sense- smell the smell of rain, feel the dampness, see it, and hear the rain hit the concrete. When we take the moment in with all our senses, we can ground ourselves in the moment. Suddenly, things we take for granted become things we feel gratitude for!
2. Gratitude happens when you recognize when your visions match your reality. For instance, I hugged my kids tonight, laughed with them, and realized that my life has everything I had ever wanted. What I really want is super simple- time spent with family.
3. Express gratitude towards others. One of my favorite practices is to write or email someone and just let them know why I appreciate them. I find my relationships strengthen, the other person feels better, and I immediately feel more grateful about my life!
4. Keep a positive journal. Write every morning or night, the things that are going well, the things you feel grateful for, and anything positive that you experienced that day. Read that journal every couple weeks to remind yourself of all that is going right!
5. Start a gratitude jar- at the beginning of the year, put sticky notes of positive experiences in the jar and read it on New Year’s Eve.
Gratitude is life changing. Life begins with gratitude because our experiences then become even more meaningful. Take a moment to think about what is going right- i.e., maybe some time for some awesome music during unideal circumstances, instead of what is going wrong.
Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S
Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing counseling and diagnostic evaluations for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, evaluations, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting www.heightsfamilycounseling.com and read more about her services http://heightsfamilycounseling.com/services-1/