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Thankfulness and gratitude are easy to feel and express when life is going well. However, when going through tough periods, we can find ourselves on the opposite end of the spectrum. Before we know it, we are asking, “Why me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” “How can I possibly cope with this or be thankful?” Some of us feel justified in how we think and feel especially when life presents us with a reminder of how unfair it is. With such thoughts, feelings of self-pity and self-misery find their way into our hearts and permeate our minds. Yet, none of these choices provide us with the relief and peace we are looking for.
Thankfulness and gratitude are presented together because they often go hand-in-hand. Gratitude is defined as the “feeling one has for something done or received.” Gratitude is often associated with spirituality and love and is a state that helps us recognize the awesome and wondrous things taking place within our lives and the world around us. Furthermore, when we feel grateful, we tend to express and show our appreciation. Similarly, thankfulness is about feeling pleased and relieved and is often described as being grateful. Thankfulness can also be associated with happiness, joyfulness, and satisfaction and is expressed through our actions.
Gratitude has several benefits. Our practice of gratitude increases positive emotions, optimism, resilience, and self-esteem. Gratitude can also deepen personal relationships, increase productivity, help us set and attain goals, be less self-centered, reduce stress, and enhance the way we handle difficult life events. For more information about the benefits of gratitude and how it can help us, please review The Happier Human and its article on the 31 Benefits of Gratitude https://www.happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/. Skip Prichard adds to our understanding of the benefits associated with gratitude and thankfulness by discussing 17 benefits of thankfulness and gratitude – https://www.skipprichard.com/17-benefits-of-thankfulness-and-gratitude/. Both sites provide helpful information about the ways thankfulness and gratitude can help us and enhance our quality of life.
Despite the benefits bestowed upon us, gratitude and being thankful do not always occur naturally. After all, many parts of life are hard, and some situations are perceived as negative or unwanted. When this happens, we are prone to feel disappointment, anger, resentment, fear, loneliness, anxiety, and we can feel genuinely, doubtful that there is anything to feel thankful for.Furthermore, living with a disability is a challenging life experience for many of us and can represent a situation where some find it difficult to be thankful or grateful. And, yes, while it is true that several aspects of living with a disability are not easy, living with a disability can also become a positive experience; one where we learn first-hand the meaning and importance of thankfulness and gratitude. More specifically living with a disability can bring several points into focus and can include:
Living with a physical, visible disability taught me more about the importance of thankfulness and gratitude. The journey, I traveled, was one where I learned that I can strive for gratitude and practice thankfulness despite some of the hurdles or barriers I encountered. For example, soon after I sustained a spinal cord injury, I learned to be thankful for the ability to navigate my external environment, to walk with below-the-knee-ankle-foot-orthotics and assistive devices, and to go back to work and resume school on a part-time basis. I was thankful to God for giving me another chance to make the most of my life and abilities. I was appreciative of family and for the close friends I had as well as the ones I developed later in life. From there, I learned that when life did not go as planned to be mindful and aware of the positive side of situations, even when I could not initially see them. In short, living with a disability has taught me a tremendous amount about myself, my views, my abilities, my relationship with God, and the people around me. Because of these experiences and life lessons, I believe we have a choice in how we will respond to life’s difficulties. Living with a disability has taught me I can choose thankfulness and gratitude, or I can choose a more negative approach (i.e., self-pity, depressed about something not being how I wanted it to be).
Those of us who want to enhance or develop a sense of gratitude and a heart of thankfulness can access them by utilizing six easy practices. More specifically, gratitude and thankfulness can be found when we:
Happier Human – What About Happiness? (August 2019). 31 Benefits of Gratitude: The Ultimate Science-Backed Guide. Retrieved on December 1, 2019, from https://www.happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/
Prichard, S. (November 2017). 17 Benefits and Thankfulness and Gratitude. Retrieved on December 1, 2019, from https://www.skipprichard.com/17-benefits-of-thankfulness-and-gratitude/
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