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The Easiest Way to Improve Your Life Today

I was hoping to get the baby quilt finished up this week.  However, it appears that being 8 months pregnant and sitting over a sewing machine for long periods of time is proving a little more challenging than I once thought.  Life is not always easy, and it can be extremely frustrating when we can’t do what we want.  Realizing I was beating myself up and getting defeated by things I could not change, I took a little time to step back and evaluate what was going on.

In my opinion, some of the most unattractive human behaviors are complaining and being ungrateful.  There are few things worse than seeing a child sitting in a room full of toys throwing a fit because they have nothing to play with, except maybe for catching myself walking into my closet and whining that I have nothing to wear.  It’s an ugly condition.  Somehow we’ve gotten to a place in society where we believe we are entitled to nothing but the best of everything all of the time.  The latest gadget we just had to have is yesterday’s news overnight.  All of this frustration, longing, disappointment, and striving can really take its toll on us and our relationships.

Feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and just generally unhappy?  There is actually an easy remedy to start improving our lives today, this instant in fact.  START BEING THANKFUL; simple…yes, cliché…yes, but effective…absolutely!  What great news, right?  We all know we need to do it.  It’s one of the first things we teach our kids.  We get downright angry when other people don’t mutter a quick “thanks” when you hold the door open.  So, my challenge for us is to start being thankful, filling our hearts and minds with gratitude on a continual basis.

When I’m reminded that I need to be more thankful, I’m often quick to pass the buck, thinking to myself, “Well sure, if I had their lifestyle, her figure, or lived where they did it’d be easy to be thankful.”  We have to stop looking at what we want and start appreciating what we already have.   I’m not going to give you the starving-kids-in-Africa speech, but if you woke up this morning in a nice bed, were able to use clean facilities, took a shower, had fresh water to drink, and food for breakfast, you already have more to be thankful for than some people can comprehend.  This isn’t going to turn into a self-defamation session either, though.  As humans, next to complaining, tearing ourselves down is one of our best skills.  If we are not giving thanks and praise 24/7 we are not doing it enough, so we are all on the same field, and we all have room for improvement.

Gratitude is a miracle worker, or maybe I should say it opens the doors for miracles to occur.  It should be our #1 go-to action in almost every circumstance.  If dynamics in the home are not quite what they used to be, start by showing your appreciation for your loved ones.  Before you leave for work or at the end of a long day, make sure the first things you are saying and conveying to your spouse and children is that you love them and are thankful they are in your life.  If your husband starts to realize how appreciative you are when he helps out around the house, he may start doing it more often, rather than feeling cornered and coerced when you nag him to take out the trash.

I know very few people, if any, that long to be around constant complaining and negative attitudes.  Just being in an atmosphere of that can be contagious.  It sucks the life right out of a person, and gets your focus off course.  On the other hand, stop and think for a moment about the last time you were in the presence of a truly positive person.  There is a noticeable difference in demeanor, outlook on life, and the way you feel when you leave that interaction.

Here are a few practical ways I’m going to start incorporating a more grateful heart into my life.  I encourage you to try it yourself, even for just a few days, to see if you don’t notice a change in your emotions and overall wellbeing.  Those around you will probably take note too.

  • To start the day out right, before I even get out of bed, I’m going to think of 5 things I’m thankful for
  • When I find myself complaining, I will stop and refocus to a positive aspect and what I can be grateful for, it may not even be something directly related to the situation at that time, but I will choose to change my thinking and speech
  • To make it more tangible, I am starting a journal to list all of the great blessings in my life
  • I will start making more of an effort to verbalize my gratitude to my friends and family
  • I will take the time to be thankful before meals for the food and drinks we have
  • When getting dressed in the morning, I will remind myself how fortunate I am to have clothes and shoes to wear every day
  • I will be thankful I have a car to drive rather than complain about the commute

I know some of this sounds very juvenile and a little extreme.  But if we can be conscious of our thinking and truly change our outlook, it will start to become easier and more of a personal quality than a chore.  Everyone wants to be happy; thankfulness is the road that opens up that possibility and leads to peace.  Make sure we are saying thank you to those around us and also practice honestly being thankful for all we have been given.  You might not be able to change others or your circumstances, but you can change the way you think about and respond to them.  I believe living in a state of gratitude is the easiest way to improve our lives today.

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