Yes, it does!
Kevin Carroll has been a teacher and pastoral minister for forty years. He is the author of A Moment’s Pause for Gratitude: Enrich Your Life with a Focus on Gratitude.
This blog post was originally published on Attitude of Gratitude on February 10, 2018.
We live in a society in which we are consistently and mercilessly bombarded with messages trying to convince us that we are unhappy, impoverished, or somehow less than what we are capable of being. Television advertising and social media provide the one-two punch of deprivation. We see what others have, what others are doing, and where others are going, and we are often left with feelings of inadequacy, convinced that our life is less interesting or exciting than the lives of those we see around us. It’s time to take charge of our thoughts. It’s time to realize that what we see on TV and online are, most often, highlight reels of people’s lives. These images rarely, if ever, depict the daily reality of their lived experience.
Gratitude is a gift — and gratitude changes everything. When we allow ourselves to look critically at our lives through the lens of gratitude, and to focus on the many reasons we have to be grateful, life gets better. We feel better. And, as so much research on the topic of gratitude has taught us, we are better off, both physically and mentally. A focus on gratitude reduces stress and increases levels of contentment. It truly is life-changing.
What does it take to start being grateful for what we have right now? I believe the key factor is self-discipline. We have the ability to choose our focus. We can focus on those around us, those who have more than we do, and feel deprived. That’s a choice. We can also, however, focus on the many gifts with which we have been blessed. For me, those gifts include my family, my health, my home, my love of writing — and the time I now have to devote to writing, my friends and neighbors, my education, the memories I have of previous experiences in my life, and so much more. It would be easy for me to be distracted by the wealth, experiences, and successes of others. It is good to recognize these things and to be happy for those who experience them. It is completely self-defeating, however, to focus on these things with envy. It is generally envy which leads to our feelings of inadequacy.
Gratitude really does change everything. Of course, we’ll still have some difficult days with which to contend, but if we can discipline ourselves to maintain a focus on gratitude, those days will be few and far between, and we will have the opportunity to enjoy our life with much higher levels of happiness and contentment.