An Attitude of Gratitude

Attitude is EVERYTHING As much as some of we (me included) would like to be able to control every aspect of our lives…we can’t! But what we can control is our attitude towards what does happen to us. We all experience and continue to experience “trying” times in our lives. The WHAT in these situations is less important than the HOW.

How we react and move through these particular situations will determine their affect on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Up to 40% of our happiness comes from how we choose to approach our lives. Especially during “trying” times we focus on all of our problems. We then get in the habit of focusing our attention on all the negative
things happening in our lives.

What would happen instead if we switched that focus to all of the good things that happen to us each and everyday? What if we took time daily or weekly to reflect on things we are grateful for in our lives?

Increasing Happiness Gratitude is the forgotten factor in happiness research.

Grateful Individuals
• Report higher levels of positive emotions
• Have greater life satisfaction
• Experience greater vitality
• Are more optimistic
• Are healthier
• Build strong relationships
• Handle adversity better
• Experience lower levels of depression and stress

People who have a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be empathetic and to take the perspective of others. They are also rated as more generous and more helpful. Grateful individuals place less importance on material goods, are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated, and are less envious of others.

Gratitude is Good for Your Health A study done by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami showed that those individuals who practiced weekly gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. During the study, one group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had upset them. While a third group wrote about events that had affected them, but there was not an emphasis on being positive or negative. The fi rst group who wrote about what they were grateful for also exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctor than those whose focused on daily irritations.

After starting a gratitude journal, people begin to look at people and things differently, seeking out the positive in each situation or interaction. They appreciate the “little things” and don’t take them for granted. A shift in the mindset happens and they notice when they are not as consistent with journaling, they can easily fall back into a mindset focused on all that is lacking.

Examples entries from a gratitude journal:
• I am so grateful for my knowledge of how to live a healthy lifestyle and help others
do the same.
• I am so grateful that I devoted time to my strength training routine today.
• I am so grateful for my family and friends that are in my life.

Ideas for Promoting Gratitude
• Write a thank you note
• Thank someone mentally
• Keep a gratitude journal
• Meditate
• Count your blessings

Jeff Tomaszewski, owner of MaxStrength Fitness in Westlake, is a certifi ed athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist. He is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University and holds a master’s degree in exercise physiology. Jeff is also a personal trainer and professional body-builder committed to helping clients achieve their health and fitness goals. Visit www.maxstrengthfitness.com or call 440.835.9090.

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