When we are young, it is so easy to focus on what we want and how we get it. It’s also easy to become disappointed, frustrated, and angry when things don’t go as we planned, and roadblocks are placed in our path. We then begin to focus on how unfair life is and all of the little things that are just not right in our lives.
Some people never move past this stage and spend their lives looking at all that is wrong, even the smallest things. They just have a negative mindset. But most people, as they mature, gain more perspective and are able to look at the larger picture. They see the setbacks in life as lessons that were and are learned, not dwelled upon. And they begin to develop a lifestyle of gratitude – being thankful instead of “being a victim.”
Most of us think of gratitude as some method of saying thanks – for something nice someone did for us, for a Thanksgiving meal, a Christmas gift, and so forth. This is just a small part of a much broader concept – the conscious attitude of appreciating all that one has and focusing on the bright side of one’s life – counting one’s blessings rather than focusing on the negative stuff in their life.
Here’s a simple example. You are stuck in traffic, something that can be common in the large Los Angeles metro area. How do you deal with it? You can focus on the negative situation you are in – you will be late for something; you’re burning up gas; you want to get home after a long day.
You can focus on your negative response to this or change your mindset. Are there some beautiful trees around where you sit? Can you put in your earbuds and access your favorite playlist? How about listening to that podcast you’ve been wanting to find time to do? Now is that time. How about just being grateful that you have a car that can get you places?
Gratitude Impacts Mental and Physical Well-Being
Not going into the neuroscience of it all, suffice it to say that the lifestyle of gratitude contributes to mental and physical health. It promotes optimism in all areas of life; it reduces stress when crises occur and reduces the negative memories of them; it can lower blood pressure and contribute to better sleep; and it definitely improves relationships among friends and family members.
Think about it. Mature women who have developed a lifestyle of gratitude and who may be looking for a new romantic relationship are a far better “catch” than one who has never overcome the attitude of ungratefulness for their stations in life.
How Do You Turn Gratitude into a Habit?
It takes work but it can be done. You might start by making a habit of coming up with three things you are grateful for each morning when you wake. You might also put a sign on your fridge that simply says “gratitude.” It will remind you to think of what you are grateful for. Put the word “gratitude” in the background of your computer and phone – there’s no way you can miss that. Find what works for you and make it a part of your daily life.
Gratitude = Maturity
Yes, this is what it is. When you are fully mature, you are able to look upon challenges and negative events within the light of a larger perspective of the good far outweighing the bad. You know that negative events teach you important lessons as you work through them, even if they are stressful at the moment. You have an optimism that you will emerge from these events wiser and stronger.