Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

1. Begin a gratitude journal. Every night before you lay your head on the pillow or flip on the television to unwind, pick up a pen and paper and write down five things that happened during your day for which you are thankful.  Are you running short on gratitude ideas?  You woke up.  Someone smiled and nodded at you today.  The door was held open for you.  You had the opportunity to make someone else a little happier.  These notes of gratitude do not need to be extensive.  At first, it may be hard to see through the struggles of the day.  Persevere and soon you will find yourself noticing the good incidents.  In turn, you will become less focused on negative actions.

2. Stop. Enjoy this moment. Bill Keane said it best: “Yesterday’s the past and tomorrow’s the future. Today is a gift – which is why they call it the present.” Focusing on moments of embarrassment or regret from the past will not help you achieve any goals.  We learn from our mistakes, but remember it is important to leave those mistakes behind and only take the lessons with us.  When we place all of our thoughts and hopes on the goals and dreams of our future, we tend to neglect the beauty contained in today.  This day holds so many possibilities for us, we sell ourselves short to only dream of tomorrow.  Enjoy today and all that it has to offer us.

3. Slow down. Relax. Breathe. We, as a society, rush too much.  We are late to this appointment.  We have to hurry to the next meeting.  The weekend is booked solid between all of the activities we have our children scheduled to attend.  Find ways to slow down, relax and breathe.  Hang up the phone earlier.  Maybe skip your afternoon talk show.  Take time for a walk.  Feel the sun shine upon your face.  Rather than thinking of silence as being loud and unbearable, relish in the opportunity to just be at peace.  For a few moments enjoy not needing anything and not being needed by anyone.  Take time to have the center of your attention be a quiet, peaceful moment of you being alone.  Each day, if only for a short while, take time for just you.

4.  Write one thank you letter each week. Have you ever had horrible service, gone home and posted on-line or written a letter to complain about what you experienced?  How many times have you gone on-line, written a note or made a phone call to praise the service that you received?

Going to your mailbox and finding a pleasant, handwritten letter has the ability to put a smile on anyone’s face.  Next time you have the opportunity to observe above average service take the time to sit down and write a note to the business.  Think of the impact that you can have on the worker.  In sharing your gratitude, you cannot help but receive an increased level of happiness.

5. Relish in the simple pleasures. As a Navy wife, I always dole out this advice.  I tell people not to focus on when their spouse has to go away.  Don’t stress about the months ahead where you gain, once again, the role of single person/parent.  Rather, take these moments to truly focus on the simple, harmless treasures life has to offer.  Maybe your loved one laughs with uncomfortable confusion when you lie in bed crying over a good book.  When you have that time to be alone, pick up that book and cry to your heart’s content.  Who could refuse such a good book?  When the table is set for one less person, who is to request a big meal?  Popcorn and apples are winners on our quiet nights!  Find what makes you smile inside.  Find what can bring you inner happiness and take time to enjoy that simple pleasure.  Whether you want to wake up early and get the morning paper all to yourself or you stop from your busy day to join a friend for coffee, enjoy the simple gifts life has to offer.  The effort you place in finding your simple pleasure will be returned as you grow in happiness exploring your attitude of gratitude.

On this week noted for giving thanks, I want to take the time to thank all of my faithful readers.  Many of you have entered your email in the subscription box to the right.  I am grateful for that.  My heart grows with gratitude and my soul expands with hope as my message is shared to more and more people.  I, this week and every week, am grateful you took the time to stop by my blog and read my stories!


Comments on: "5 Steps to an Attitude of Gratitude" (6)

  1. Great post! I like your thoughts about gratitude and the simple things we can do — and which enrich our lives. I just blogged about 12 things for which to give thanks that most people may not have considered . . . and which are possible for just about all of us. I’d love your thoughts about it. Feel free to visit: http://findfulfillflourish.wordpress.com/

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. I journal a page every morning, no great thoughts, just the pen moving over the paper, and I’ve done so for decades. During a sort of depressive patch a few years ago I assigned myself to write only positive things every day, not thinking there’d be much to record. But as you say — there is always good stuff if you look. Like waking up. And as you continue, the positive grows more and more.

    Have a wonderful holiday — and be sure to take a few moments out just for yourself. Onward! J

  3. As a very wise man once said, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”. ~ Buddha

    There is *always* something to be grateful for; thank you for the wonderful suggestions and reminders. 🙂

    • I love that quote! I do not remember having ever heard it before. Thanks for sharing it with me. I will definitely have to copy it down and put it away to remember it!

      • Another one I really like kind of along those lines: “That which one frequently ponders becomes the inclination of the mind.” (Again, Buddha.) This one teaches me/reminds me to be selective in what I think/what I consume/what I allow to influence me, because those items will become the direction my mind takes. (As a neuroscience gal, I bet you can appreciate the hard-wire perspective.) 🙂

  4. […] with it when you wake up and acknowledge the gifts that remain and you replace bitterness with an attitude of gratitude.  Hope is rarely an instantaneous finding.  Nonetheless, it is there.  It is in all of us.  For […]

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