LSR #8: Active Gratitude

One lesson my near six months of blogging has taught me is this:  When my palms sweat and my heartbeat quickens, I’ve probably come upon a post-worthy topic—something that will resonate with, inspire or entertain people in some way. Sharing my personal story last week was no exception. Your warm, heartbreaking and even humorous responses inspired so many chills, I wondered if I’d end up with permanent chicken skin. And you know what? I would’ve worn it with pride.

Thank you with all of my heart!

It seems only reasonable that I jump to #8 in my Lifesaving Resolutions series to what I call active, or proactive, gratitude—a technique that’s helped lift my spirits in countless frustrating situations, from bumpy patches on the road to recovery to harsh literary feedback. I hope you find it as kick-butt-awesome as I do. 😉

grat·i·tude /noun: a feeling of appreciation or thanks —Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Active gratitude involves acting upon these feelings. You know that saying, “Action speaks louder than words?” Well it’s particularly powerful in gratitude matters.

While a grateful person sees a glass as half full and an ungrateful person deems it half empty, an actively grateful person savors the beverage, thanks the preparer and goes on to share the drink with others. 

Active gratitude is also reactive.

On happy days, our blessings seem like lit up billboards in our brains: I love my life! What gorgeous weather! Yeahoo—I’m out of debt! PMS = over! Active gratitude often follows automatically. We smile, observe positivity in others and do good deeds with natural ease. Why? Because happy, grateful people tend to take better care of themselves and others.

In fact, research conducted by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, a grateful mindset is associated with improved physical health, reduced anxiety and depression, sounder sleep and kinder behavior toward others. (Talk about awesome frosting.)

But we can’t very well activate gratitude if we don’t have any, right? Enter my favorite use of the technique:

On difficult days, we can easily turn inward, fixate on our gloom and throw a nonstop pity-party that does little but make us, and those around us, feel worse. By making the decision to cultivate gratitude and act upon it, the yuck-snowball can boomerang in the opposite direction, turning the nasty grayish ice clumps into sunny warmth. (Ahh…)

Simple Ways to Activate Gratitude:

Commit to a grateful mindset. For practical, entertaining insight on doing so, check out Kristen Lamb’s fantastic post: An Attitude of Gratitude.

Keep a gratitude journal. Simply jotting down your “I’m thankful for” list tends to cultivate grateful living. To take it many steps further, choose an item from your list to act upon each day, week or whenever the blahs set in.

Grateful for the fantastic book you’ve just read? Post a 5-star review on Amazon.com or blog about its awesomeness. Better yet, do both.

Grateful for your health? Schedule that annual physical you’ve been dismissing. Stock up on fruits and veggies. Go for a walk.

Grateful for your significant other? Sneak a love note into his or her work gear. Plan a spontaneous date. Complete a household chore they loathe doing.

Grateful for supportive blogging friends? Post thoughtful comments on their posts. Share links to their blogs via your own blog, email, Facebook and Twitter.

Stressed over finances? Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Donate “junk” from your closet to your local thrift store. Give food or spare change to a homeless person.

Crushed over a rejection letter? Write thank you letters to your loved ones or to your inner child/creativity/writing self. Read to a child or grandparent.

Feeling PMS-ey? Take a loved one who “gets it” out for coffee or, who am I kidding, ICE CREAM. 😉 Cry your eyes out while you’re at it. It’s healthy.

Hungry for more?? Check out these fabulous posts by some of my favorite bloggers:

Julie Hedlund’s tribute to her daughter: Gratitude Sunday 68
Tameri Etherton’s creative pursuit of honing a grateful attitude: New Year’s Resolutions
Piper Bayard’s commemoration of heros from 9/11: We Drank Champagne and Remembered

***My own gratitude inspired the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest, which is coming up February 9th and 10th. If you’d like to participate as a blogger or prize donor, click here.

What are you particularly grateful for this week? How do you plan to express it? Any fab suggestions to add? I love hearing from you.