Saturday, November 29, 2014

Keeping an Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving has past and Black Friday is over. By now most of the left overs are either finished, preserved or are composting. All this month you have no doubt seen lots of people sharing things that they are thankful for. That is great. People should voice the blessings in their life. I just don't like the fact that a lot of people ignore all of the good things in their life till November and Thanksgiving rolls around. Today I want to discuss keeping an attitude of gratitude all year long and why it is important.

Negativity Rules

Bad stuff gets more press. That is just the truth. If you were in a great mood and wanted to kill it, all you would have to do is watch your local news or listen to NPR. Anyone who listens for too long should almost be placed on suicide watch.

There is very little good news shared on these outlets. I don't believe it is because they want everyone to be depressed (I do question some sources). Bad news sells better, we find those stories more interesting. For a good story to get a lot of press, the story has to really be over the top or unusual.

For an example, if you live in or near a large city, it is normal for the news everyday to report a killing or theft. How often do you hear a story about someone saving a person's life? Or returning something that was lost. They are the corresponding opposite of the events we see as news worthy, but these are not.
Why is this the case? A lot of it has to do with the way we are wired as a people.

What Do You See?

Why Attitude Matters

I think everyone has heard your attitude determines you altitude. Sounds great doesn't it? Makes for a great mantra or chant, but we all know some, how shall I put it, less than honorable people have achieved some really important positions. But attitude does help us with our interactions at work and at home. 

Who You are Around

Everyone knows someone, that I and a few of my coworkers would call a "happiness black hole", or a "spiritual vampire". You can be in a great mood and just a couple of minutes around them you almost hate the world. That is really sad, but I bet you know at least one. We tend to avoid these people as much as possible, unless we are already in a bad mood. If we are already toxic, we will search these people out, we want to infect everyone else we can. That is not good.

Just as you can change the atmosphere, others can as well. I try to avoid anyone and everyone with a toxic attitude. It's not easy and a lot of times it is not even possible. People's attitudes affect each other whether we realize it or not.

Why It Is So Easy to Be Negative

Remember above when I asked you about the picture? What did you see? Most people will say a spot. Is that the most correct answer that can be given? The most correct answer that could be given is a gray spot on a white field. Our eyes go to what stands out. Even though the entire picture is different than the surroundings, our eyes still drift to the one point that stands out. We notice the negative.

For us to notice something positive, that doesn't directly affect us, the positive event must be overwhelmingly good. It takes effort to notice normal good things.

Benefits of Staying Positive

If you maintain an attitude of gratitude you will naturally have a more positive outlook on life. A positive attitude has many benefits. When you show a positive attitude, it is easier to deal with people. We never know what another person may be going through and sometimes a kind word and a smile will lift someone's spirits. Just as a bad attitude is contagious so can be a good attitude. Share your joy.

According to the Mayo Clinic there are lots of health benefits of maintaining a positive outlook on life. In a post entitled Positive Thinking: Reducing Negative Self-Talk to Reduce Stress, the staff of the Mayo Clinic state that a positive outlook on life can have the following positive health benefits:

The health benefits of positive thinking

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

What an Attitude of Gratitude Is and Is Not

An attitude of gratitude is NOT denying when things are bad. In fact it is acknowledging the difficulties of life, but instead of dwelling on those challenges, it is looking for the good that we experience. It is not delusional in the least. What it is though is looking for as many positive things as possible in every situation. 

While in college my psychology instructor made a statement that has stuck with me. It takes 7 positive events to overcome each negative event. That not only shows the power of a negative event, it also illustrates the need to celebrate every positive event. 

It seems like everyday I will run into a challenge. Some of the challenges I run into are beyond my experience or ability. Working together with others will help us get through.

Being negative could end your

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