Can Gratitude Be Taught?

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When left unchecked my default behaviour is to become focused on all the substandard things in life that can be made better. While this may not always be a bad thing, it does cause me to quite frequently forget about the blessings in my life and become negative.

Gratitude isn’t something that comes naturally to me, and if you would have asked me a few years ago I would have said gratitude can’t be taught. Over the last six months I’ve been forced to embrace gratitude as a way to help me through some health issues. While I was depressed and mentally thrashing myself, I was encouraged to start a gratitude journal by my friend Patty.

I initially resisted, “Why would I want to write down what I’m thankful for?” I didn’t feel thankful for much at that moment in time, but was encouraged to write down even simple things to start with. My first day of gratitude items included:

  • Breathing exercise to relax
  • Salvation delivered by Jesus
  • Patty help
  • Anxiety meds

I was struggling to get through the days without anxiety attacks because of my health issues, and this list didn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I kept going though, and soon saw that I was becoming more positive as I focused on what I was grateful for. As I’ve recovered from my health issues I’m grateful that I kept track of my gratitude items daily. It’s a good reminder to myself each day when I journal that even if I have bad days good things still happen to me.

In addition to being more positive, there’s other good reasons to learn to be grateful:

I encourage everyone to start a gratitude journal if they don’t already practice it. It could be with blog posts, thank notes to others, or a paper notebook. Regardless of how you express the gratitude, doing it in a repeatable format daily forces one to focus on positive things in their life. You’d be surprised how any grumpy gus can become more positive over time, just by changing their focus.

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