My car has a world-class GPS system in it. It's a genuine, high-tech, (the kind I need our 13-year-old to explain), sure-to-get-me-where-I-want-to-go virtual assistant that guides me in my travels. Only problem is, I said I wanted to get to "happiness," and it was stymied.
Some GPS system that is! I'll rely on mine: Gratitude, Positivity and Sensitivity.
Not very high-tech, no fancy labels, no on-line FAQs, not the latest on the market, but always -- ALWAYS -- gets me where I want to go in life.
The word gratitude is anchored in the Latin word, gratia, meaning grace, graciousness or gratefulness. It's that under-rated and under-utlized thankful appreciation for the good we receive in life, whether from our own efforts or from other people or a higher power. Super-star gratitude-dudes know to allow that same feeling of positivity to grow within them for those things, events, people and circumstances that don't look all that good at first glance, that are real challenges and discomforts in life, as well. We never really know the purpose of why something happens but with my GPS system, we always know it will lead to good.
The gratitude personality I strive for is one that recognizes there are no "nos" in life -- only a "yes" to be discovered, perhaps at another time or in another place.
Recent research has pointed to gratitude as an elixir of mental and physical health, alertness and happiness. No "navi" system has yet figured out how to direct a driver to happiness but gratitude seems to be the "forgotten factor" in getting to happiness.
Cicero observed, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others."
People who are deeply thankful, sensitive, positive, who count their blessings, notice the simple joys of daily life, and acknowledge everything they have in positive ways, those are the people who engage in healthier behaviors and generally take better care of themselves. This means they THink more clearly, EAt more wisely, and MOve more frequently. It's what I call "THEAMO."
Want to sleep better? Want to exercise more? Want to prevent or reduce stress, anger, anxiety and depression? Want to recover from traumatic events more quickly? Want to enjoy the simple things in life instead of focusing on what you don't have that others do? Want to have a healthier set of priorities? Want to bring joy into the lives of others along with yourself? Need to recalibrate your negative thinking?
Gratitude, positivity and sensitivity. The Mantell GPS System.
Start creating that thankful approach to every person, every circumstance, every place, everything in your life. Write down, on a regular basis, what you feel most grateful for. Research at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, tells us that your happiness will grow more from this than from many other interventions out there.
Can you think? Be grateful for the good you can contemplate. Can you see? Be grateful for the beauty that you can see. Can you hear? Be grateful for the soothing sounds of life that you can hear. Get it? Use the GPS system to get you there.
What're the steps to being grateful?
Good -- what's good about your daily life regardless of what you have or not?
Recognize -- what can go right?
Appreciative -- are you appreciative of what you have... and don't have?
Thankful -- who have you sincerely thanked today?
Emotional -- can you express emotion in a positive manner?
Fulfilled -- you are either fulfilled or on the way to being fulfilled... never unfulfilled
Understanding -- do you have the lens to understand that whatever happens always happens for the good?
Liked -- do you look for what you can like in every person and situation you come across in life?
Here are my top five actions you can take to turn on this GPS system:
1. Never miss an opportunity to say "thank-you" -- preferably IRL -- it'll connect you to others in a positive way. To paraphrase, if "thank you" is the only prayer you say, it'll suffice.
2. Meditate. If that sounds too "heavy" then at least think about people, places, things and events on a regular basis, that you can create the feeling of grateful for -- past and present.
3. Post gratitude-growing sayings, phrases, posters, and prayers around your home and, if you can, in your workplace as well.
4. Recognize the good in everything. That's right. Look for it. It's there. Find a way to "paint adversity into a lovely picture" (Kak Sri's observation).
5. No matter what you don't have, do not feel sorry for yourself! It's enough you are alive! Repeat after me, "This too is for the good!" Say it often.
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