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Building an attitude of gratitude

Updated on November 27, 2011

Being happy is more than a state of mind

What you put out to the universe you get back

Someone once told me, “What you put out to the universe you get back.” How right they were and still are. If you want people around you to be happy, then you need to be happy first. If you are twisted and bitter, all you’ll attract will be similar twisted and bitter people. You have to decide whether you want to walk around with a face that looks like you have a piece of sour lemon stuck between your teeth, or a face that looks like sunshine itself. It’s your choice.

We need to become a little selfish and make sure that we care for ourselves first, before we take on the care of others. It’s a bit like when you are on a plane and they tell you to put on the oxygen mask first before helping others. I was once on a plane that had the pressure valve blow. The oxygen masks dropped and dangled in front of us and we all sat staring at them swing about in front of us completely mesmerised. It was only when the flight attendant, with an oxygen tank strapped to her back came running down the aisle shouting for us to hurry up as we only had twenty seconds left that we all moved and put on the masks. If that flight attendant didn’t sort herself out first, she wouldn’t have been able to help us and galvanise us into action.

Another thing we have to watch out for is basing our sense of self-worth on the things we do for others. If we get caught up in this cycle we can end up running ragged doing things for others and neglecting ourselves. This can cause us to become physically and emotionally drained. All it does is create more stress in an already stressful life. Is that what you want?

Those women who try their hardest to balance work, marriage and parenthood know what a thankless task it is. It’s like each day you lose a little piece of yourself. Before you fragment completely into a myriad shards of brittle glass, you need to make sure to find some ‘me-time.’ It could be going for a manicure, massage, swim in a heated swimming pool at an exclusive gym, or going for a long solitary walk to clear your head and order your thoughts. You need some time where you can be alone doing something just for yourself. The fact of the matter is when you pamper yourself you feel more positive and that’s what you put out to the universe.

After setting aside some ‘me-time’, it might be an idea to set aside some ‘we-time’ if you are in a new relationship or a single parent with kids. Work hard at learning to say NO. (I don’t know why men find it so much easier to say NO. Maybe it’s because they’re not as eager to please.) Don’t take on more than you can cope with, it just builds up your stress levels. Remember that you are not a robot but a living and breathing human being. You need to learn to go to bed tired instead of run-down and exhausted. Keep a diary and prioritise your day. Learn to delegate. Make a list of jobs that others instead of you can do. Be kind to yourself. Stop putting yourself down and absorbing all the negative comments people have placed on you over the years. Instead, believe in yourself and surround yourself with positive thoughts. Make a conscious effort not to pass judgements on others and put them down, breaking the curse of negativity. When you start to feel more positive about your life, the universe will give it back to you.

Attitude of Gratitude

Showing gratitude unleashes many positive emotions which all help to create a more positive you. If you feel happier within yourself, you experience more joy and contentment which reduces stress and anxiety and gives you a better night’s sleep.

Showing gratitude is like eating chocolate without the calories. It releases all the ‘feel-good’ hormones in your brain like chocolate does, but doesn’t add inches to the waistline.

Unfortunately most of us put all our energy and attention into what upsets us, rather than focusing ourselves on what makes us happy. If we work on appreciating the good and showing gratitude then it can become a habit. It might get on the nerves of your friends who want to bitch and not be told about the positive in the situation, but that’s their problem, isn’t it?

Wake up in the morning and mentally list all the things you are grateful for. This becomes your armour to get you through a day where you might face a curve ball around every corner.

I remember seeing this on an episode of Oprah a few years ago. Keep a gratitude journal. Every night before you go to sleep, write down everything you can be thankful for that happened that day. This puts you in a positive frame of mind before you go sleep.

Showing gratitude can spread like wildfire. A kind of happy virus. If you share your gratitude with others it makes them feel good, so they’ll start sharing their gratitude and so on. Now you know what you have to do. Start infecting your friends with the attitude of gratitude bug and watch it spread.

Planning for happiness

If being happy doesn’t come easy to you, then you need to be pro-active and plan for it. Draw up a year plan. On your big calendar on your fridge, home office or in your diary, write in dates and events that will crop up during the year that will make you happy. This can even include date nights or girls’ nights out. The secret here is that if it’s written down in the diary or on the calendar then it’s more likely to happen than be postponed.

Things you can include are:

1. Scheduled beauty treatments. Nothing makes you feel better than when you know you are hot and sexy and on top of your game.

2. Holidays or weekend getaways. This always gives you something to look forward to, a respite from the stresses of daily life.

3. Clothing sales. Diarising these also helps you to plan your budget accordingly. Let’s face it, a new outfit often makes us feel like a new person.

4. Include some items from your bucket list. For those who never saw the movie, it’s a list of things to do before you kick the bucket and die. It could be a sky-diving experience or a visit to Ankor Wat in Cambodia.

5. Upcoming music concerts or shows you really want to see. Diarising these in advance helps to allocate money for them in the budget.

Showing appreciation

Many unfaithful men cite feeling under-appreciated as being the reason for their straying ways. To have a successful relationship you need to show your appreciation to your partner for who they are, not what they do. And how better to do it than by voicing it. Speak from the heart and communicate how you feel. At first you might feel awkward if you are not used to doing it and might even be tempted to turn it into a joke. Don’t. Everybody likes being appreciated and they’ll recognise if you are just paying lip-service to it. You have to be genuine in your appreciation. Communicating your appreciation for others can rejuvenate your relationship.

This is an excerpt from my soon-to-be released book called How to Say No to Sex and other Survival Tips for the Suddenly Single.

Get help after a break-up, learn how to show gratitude!


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