Today I found an article who expressed this far better than I can. I am BIG believer in having an “attitude of gratitude”.
I admit proudly that for years, I have developed an attitude of gratitude and I truly believe it is a big part of what makes me a happy person. I am convinced it can make many more people happy if they practice it even for a month or two.
You may have heard the psychobabble term of “confirmation bias” that is backed up by numerous research studies over the years. Confirmation bias means that people will search for and interpret ‘evidence’ to confirmt what they already believe. So if you believe everyone is untrustworthy, you will interpret them forgetting something minor as confirmation that they, and everyone else, are untrustworthy. If you believe your marriage won’t work, you will look for ‘evidence’ and interpret even small things as more ‘proof’ that your marriage is hopeless — when it may not be hopeless at all.
Fortunately, the same works for the positives. If I believe people who love me have positive or neutral intent in their words or behavior toward me, even something that I may react to with frustration or even hurt, I can remind myself that they probably have positive or neutral intent, even if the effect was negative. So it makes it much easier to talk things through without blame and attacking.
Looking for things, people, events, during the day that are positive, can give you a lot to be grateful for! I remember someone I knew years ago who told me he didn’t have anything to be grateful for. A disability prevented him from working, he worried about his economic situation, etc. He really hadn’t made friends here in town, etc. etc.. Those things were real and were challenging. But I pushed him to consciously look for something positive that he could be grateful for each day. We started with basics — he had a roof over his head (AND it was paid for!). He had food. He could see. He could walk. The day was beautiful.
Somedays, probably all of us have to back to those basics — “I can talk, walk, hear.” “I have indoor plumbing.” Anything! It doesn’t mean sweeping the negative or frustrations under the carpet. It means holding both and refusing to allow the frustrating situations to drag you into a swamp of negativity and pessimism.
I like being around people who are grateful — grateful for life, for simple things, for a sunset they saw driving home, for a flower that bloomed in a pot in their house. I feel grateful every day for people in my life who love me and who I love — even on days when one of us does or says something intentionally that creates friction or temporary disconnection.
Make a commitment for 2 months to think each night before you go to bed of something you can be grateful for that day. You will gradually find more and more! You find more of what you look for.
I found this article written by Arthur C. Brooks and published in the NY Times that talks about gratitude much more eloquently than I have — and he gives you some of the research to back up why you should: Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier