Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. -Cicero
Have you ever been with people who have very little, but seem very happy and satisfied? The lack of material things may make them appear to be unsuccessful by our culture's definition, yet most millionaires would envy their happiness. They have achieved surpassing life success through gratitude.
Our culture teaches us to regret the things we don't have, rather than be thankful for the things we do. A thankful person reverses this thinking, because she looks at what she has, rather than what she lacks. The unthankful person makes comparisons. "He has more money or a bigger house." "She is prettier or thinner than I am."
With the adverse pressures of our culture, fostering an "attitude of gratitude" requires effort. Several practices can help:
- Create a list of the things that you are thankful for.
- Create a personal marker chronology showing how the events that have happened to you or the decisions that you made have positively benefited your life. A personal marker chronology provides perspective. For example, when you broke up with your high school or college sweetheart that you thought was "the one," you were probably devastated. Your chronology, though, will show that the break-up resulted in meeting your future spouse and a much better life.
When the next "bad" thing happens to you, you can look at your chronology and be thankful, realizing that what initially looks bad often leads to a future positive outcome.
Success without gratitude is a hollow victory and often short-lived. With the next challenge or disappointment, the successful ingrate quickly folds. On the other hand, the thankful person enjoys their current success, while recognizing that the situation can change, and has the resilience to give thanks in all circumstances.
• Be thankful for what you have, not regretful for what you lack.
• Don't make comparisons or, if you do, remember the other person's life is a "package deal"—you have to take their bad with the good.
• Develop an attitude of gratitude.
• Make a list of the things you are thankful for and review it often.
• Gain perspective from a personal marker chronology.
A much happier life, positive outlook and resilience in challenging time
Excerpted from Chapter 50, Thanks, of The Surpassing Life: 52 Practical Ways to Achieve Personal Excellence, thesurpassinglife.com.