09/29/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

3 Ways To Bring Gratitude Into Your Life

There is a lot of bad news around. No news in that. Does it get to you? I limit the amount of news I read, hear or watch because it gets me down. Being grateful for what is immediately around me alleviates unnecessary stress, and restores my spirit.

1. Control Your Attitude In response to my recent post 4 Steps to Enrich Your Life I received the following from one reader:

The article reaffirmed my belief that we really are what we think. After reading the article, I stopped focusing on my stress, and good things actually started happening again. I have to practice this daily or it is easy for me to get a bit depressed.

In fact, as part of my "gratitude practice," I have an online journal that lists the things I am grateful for with photographs to illustrate them. It is great to have the blog format, because it is portable and I can check in from anywhere if needed. So, when I am feeling frustrated at work, I can take a quick break, and visit my site and remember what is important and what I am grateful for. I highly recommend this to others as a mental exercise. It takes time to update, but the result is a wonderful list of gratitude and images that show the beauty and joy in my life.

This reader reminded me how, as much as we may not be in control of the circumstances of our lives, we can be in control of our attitude. Gratitude is a great attitude.

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."

G.K. Chesterton

2. Develop Appreciation At our monthly Possible Dream Meeting last Saturday morning, we did an appreciation exercise which I have done many times with groups. It can be done as a family at a picnic; on a lunch break with co-workers; with friends who get together from time to time.

The exercise is simple and can be done spontaneously. Look around fellow members of your group and write down the greatest strengths and positive qualities you observe in each one. If you do not know the people well, trust your intuition to show you. Look down the list of qualities you have written.

Then, take it in turn to tell each person the qualities and strengths you notice and appreciate in them.

3. Own Your Strengths We are mirrors to each other. We will recognize in others the strengths and qualities we have in ourselves. Sometimes a person will say: Oh no. I don't have that quality. Invariably, one other will affirm that he or she does. Sometimes, we are not aware of our greatest strengths. Other times, we have yet to fully develop them.

The beauty of this exercise is that of being more open with people around you. You grow trust and feel safe to enjoy new bonds. It will also assist you to touch in to the best of your human spirit. This awareness can help to sustain you through challenging times. When you are in touch with the spirit within you, you will not feel alone or abandoned.

On Saturday, I wrote the qualities I observed in the others, and those they fed back to me, on a card. I have it by me this week.

Please take a moment to appreciate yourself. It is a way to be in touch with the remarkable spirit that you are.

"Appreciation is a wonderful thing.
It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well."

Finally, I am grateful for that human spirit that lives within each of us; that connects us profoundly to the goodness in each other; that has the solutions to our problems; that in the middle of chaos and disillusionment, nevertheless radiates joy.

Sometimes it takes for bad things to happen for the right person to be inspired to produce a solution. The horrific news of the Asian tsunami and the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina stimulated a creative response in Michael Pritchard to solve, cost effectively, the problem of dirty water - in any part of the world.

Michael Pritchard's clean water filter

"I've seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people
living ordinary lives."

Tracy Chapman

Do you use gratitude to get through difficult times? Are you finding that the challenges we are facing are waking us up to something greater within us? Is there anyone you especially appreciate in your life?

I love to hear from you! Your responses mean a lot to me and I always value the time you take to contribute your thoughts and ideas.

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