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How to Cancel Negative Thoughts with Gratitude

Updated on June 21, 2016
MsDora profile image

MsDora, former teacher and Certified Christian Counselor, explores attitudes and actions that can help us maintain our mental well-being.

Think happy, think grateful.
Think happy, think grateful. | Source

Gratitude, the attitude of being thankful is mostly a response – to a gift, an act of kindness, a reward.

However, when the burdens of daily living crush us, we forget the good times and we forget to be grateful. We are more likely to harbor negative thoughts about ourselves, and our situation. Ironically, the thing we forget is the very thing we need to help us improve. Gratitude is the antidote to negative thoughts.

Here is how it works1:

  • Negativity starts with a feeling (a sensation). I feel cheated. I feel disappointed. I feel like a failure.
  • We think about how we feel. Thinking is a mental activity of exploring and analyzing. Where did this feeling come from? Why? What caused it? We compare our findings with other feelings and thoughts from previous experiences.
  • We settle on an emotion. We become sad, or mad. Either way, our thoughts can effect a change.

In the center of this feeling-thought-emotion process, our thoughts (our minds) have the potential to lead us forward or backward. Just as our thoughts lead us forward into engaging our emotions, they can lead us backward into changing our feelings. When our thoughts change, our feelings change. There is no limit to where our thoughts can take us.

From Sadness to Gratitude

If we settle on sad, we are likely to engage other emotions like embarrassment, shame, disappointment, all the way to depression. At the point where we begin to dislike our situation, we can demand that our thoughts release us. One guaranteed way is to begin thinking gratitude.

Gratitude that (for example):

  • I am grateful that I can feel, even the feeling of sadness, because feeling means that I am alive.
  • I am grateful that in the past, sad situations did not last forever.
  • I am grateful that the sadness subsides as I watch the children play in the park, on the street corner, or on the children’s television network.
  • I am grateful that there is someone, friendly or professional, I can consult.
  • I am grateful for upbeat music with inspirational lyrics to help change the mood.

From Madness to Gratitude

The emotions which connect with mad may be different. We are likely to engage in blame, anger, resentment, and perhaps the desire for revenge. Whereas, loneliness accommodates our sadness; madness prompts us to seek out people on whom to vent our rage. Self-control begins with thought control, and again, thoughts of gratitude can be our mood changer.

Gratitude that (for example):

  • The people I try to blame have no control over the way I react; I am free to choose my response, even forgiveness.
  • My anger does not control me; I can control it.
  • There are appropriate ways to use up my negative energy: in the gym, in gardening, in basketball or football.
  • There are motivational books or tapes which can help change my mood.
  • There is still good company available—(people who are not the object of my madness) with whom I can share positive feelings.

The Attitude of Gratitude

Photo by Vera Kratochvil
Photo by Vera Kratochvil | Source

The attitude of gratitude which surfaces during the Thanksgiving season is so refreshing! That atmosphere can be created on any day of the year, especially to combat negative feelings. Positive feelings, thoughts and emotions flourish in an atmosphere of gratitude.

Strife, discontent or any other relationship problem between individuals or families are likely to disappear when people make the effort to be grateful.

  • No cursing because people think of blessings when they give thanks.
  • No complaining because thanksgiving is an expression of satisfaction.
  • No bragging because thanksgiving takes the focus off self and puts it on the giver.
  • Not criticizing or condemning because thanksgiving is giving praise.

The thought of gratitude clears our minds of anger, revenge, malice and all other kinds of evil intentions. We think of kindness in its various forms: tangible gifts, acceptance, hospitality, encouragement, sacrifice. We smile or shed tears of joy. We remember a host of reasons why we like people and why we believe that people like us.

Eventually we turn our thoughts heavenward to the ultimate Giver who intervenes in our affairs, so that we often receive the most appropriate gifts at the most appropriate times. Nothing uplifts and inspires the spirit like a session of thanksgiving.

Practicing Gratitude

My Favorite Gratitude Quote

Thou who hast given

so much to me,

give me one more thing

- a grateful heart!

George Herbert

During the day when it seems that there is no immediate reason to give thanks, count your blessings. Relive moments of a thanksgiving occasion. If we allow it, the spirit of gratitude can affect us whenever we choose.

  • When the conversation lags, say, "I am so grateful that . . . " An appropriate ending for your sentence will come to mind.
  • Look around in the room, or at the outdoor objects within your sight. There must be something worth an expression of gratitude. For example, the hospitality on the inside; the weather or the incident-free traffic on the outside.
  • Practice being happy for other people and giving thanks for their good favor. "I'm thankful that you shared the news of your grandson's promotion with me."
  • Write a gratitude journal. Inspire a relative or friend to do the same, and share regularly.
  • Practice meditation when the sense of gratitude seems to elude. Find a gratitude quote and meditate on it.

Practice thanksgiving until it becomes a habit. It not only influences thought and moods; it also generates positive actions. One study on how gratitude motivates behavior2 reports that when a jewelry store owner called and thanked his customers, they increased subsequent purchases by 70%. Another study3 showed that regular customers of a restaurant gave bigger tips when the waiters wrote “Thank you” on their checks.

How would the relationship in our homes, on our jobs, in the community be different if we express gratitude more often? What a wonderful world this would be, for both those who give thanks and those who receive thanks, if we all thanked regularly!


1. Miller PhD., Ruth L. What’s the difference between feelings, thoughts, and emotions? (May 27, 2011).

2. Carey, J. R., Clicque, S. H., Leighton, B. A., & Milton, F. (1976). A test of positive reinforcement of customers. Journal of Marketing, 40, 98-100.

3. Rind, B., & Bordia, P. (1995). Effect of server's "Thank you" and personalization on restaurant tipping. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 25, 745-751.


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    • lululizzy1942 profile image

      lululizzy1942 5 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

      Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Thanks

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for reading and commenting, lululizzy1942. Looking forward to reading your work also. Cheers!

    • profile image

      Eddie-Perkins 5 years ago

      Beautiful! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday next to Christian Easter. Thanks for writing Ms Dora. Vote up, useful and beautiful. ~ eddie

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for your support and votes. Interesting that you put Easter before Thanksgiving, but knowing what I know about you, I'm sure I know why.

    • profile image

      Eddie-Perkins 5 years ago

      Sorry for confusing you MsDora. I meant equal favorites not either one before the other and a Christian Christmas is also right there at the top with me. Without the virgin birth I have no resurrection and without these two I don’t have near as much to be Thankful for. Blessings ~ eddie

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for the explanation, Eddie-Perkins. No harm done! I totally understand and agree with you. My misunderstanding gave you an opportunity to express your faith priority more clearly. See how that works? Thank You, Lord, for everything including misunderstandings and explanations!

    • profile image

      Eddie-Perkins 5 years ago

      Always thankful for opportunities :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, MsDora, beautiful hub, and what a lovely time, Thanksgiving, I never really knew about it before, but ever since I started writing on Hubs I know much more now, and I do wish we had it in England, what a great day!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Nell, I appreciate your comment. Perhaps you can have your own thanksgiving day with your family, even on the day we celebrate it in America, or on an anniversary date. You'll enjoy it whenever you do.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 5 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Thanks, MsDora, for another lovely treatise on the good that is in life. We appreciate your uplifting testimonies and sound moral, spiritual, and emotional advise.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Always happy to see you drop by, denise. Thanks for your encouragement.

    • clara kish@yahoo. profile image

      Clara Kish 5 years ago from Mt. Perry. Ohio

      MsDora, I just read your hub and it is filled with a lot of good things to make you think about,We need God in everything.Thank you for sharing. clara

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Happy to share, Clara. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    • anndavis25 profile image

      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Hello MsDora. I'd come to your house for Thanksgiving dinner any time. I like what you say. I'm betting the atmosphere is loving and happy. I hope it's that way for you this year as well. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, anndavis25. You're welcome to come to my house at Thanksgiving and any other time. At least, we can talk since you like what I say. We may not have to eat (just teasing)!

    • My spiritual Life profile image

      My spiritual Life 5 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub!!!We should have thanksgiving every day of our life. It should become part of our life. Thanks for the hub.

      I just read Rhonda bryne's "The Magic" book. It is about the power of gratitude. It is a must read. I have a hub on it.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, My spiritual life. I agree wholeheartedly that we should give thanks every day. We would realize how blessed we are. I will also look for your hub.

    • Ann810 profile image

      Ann810 8 months ago from Sunny Cali

      Ms Dora, good article here. Being grateful can help center an individual, it's an important part of Bible meditation, and it assist with gradually pulling an individual out of depression. It's a positive practice to say aloud daily at least 5-10 blessings to be grateful for. Thanks.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 8 months ago from The Caribbean

      Ann. Thanks for your affirmation. Your suggestion has great benefits for people who practice it.

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