THE BLOG
12/24/2014 09:52 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Choose Gratitude or Anger: A 3-Part Test (If You Dare)

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How many times do you shift back and forth between being grateful and then suddenly angry?

You're happy and then mad, irritated and put out. Your good mood is gone!

When you see this it's an instant opportunity to make a choice -- either to be grateful or not.

It's one or the other emotion at any time in our lives.

Sure there are things you have a right to be angry about but I'm encouraging you to see -- you have a choice between being angry or grateful.

You either consciously work at your gratitude and really mean it or you play around, ignore it, take it for granted and forget how grateful you really are and should be for life. Grateful to be breathing. Grateful to be alive.

If you're not grateful you're ungrateful...angry...resentful. It's one or the other.

Gratitude is a celebration.

It's conscious appreciation.

It's active thankfulness.

It's awareness of the good things in your life and the good things in the world around you.

We say 'thank you' all the time. It's organic and natural. 'Thanks for calling...thank you for cooking dinner...thanks for caring...thanks for really listening.'

What does gratitude make you feel?

Try this simple three part exercise -- if you dare:

PART 1

Take three minutes and focus on things you resent. Sit quietly and think about people and things you dislike or hate. Things that irritate you - make you angry - that bring up meanness - jealousy - stress - resentment -- negativity.

(Really...bring them right to the front of your mind and sit with them for three minutes.)

OK...How do you feel? What happened to your mind and body? How tense or relaxed did you get? Were you open or closed off? How does negativity and being dark make you feel?

PART 2

Now focus on what you're grateful for. Be positive. Think about people and things you like. What gives you pleasure? What makes you happy? What gives you peace and joy? What are you thankful for? What do you love?

(Take three more minutes to think about only positive, good things.)

Now what do you feel? Are you stronger or weaker? Are you more relaxed or less? Energized? Happier? Are you more yourself?

Which emotion do you prefer?

•Gratitude or Anger?

•Bitterness or Appreciation?

•Resentment or Kindness?

•Positivity or Negativity?

•Misery or Happiness?

•Thankfulness or ingratitude?

The purpose of the exercise is to have you see how vital gratitude is in your life and the deep, powerful good effect it has. It's a strengthener. It powers you up. Enhances you. It's a simple thing to express gratitude -- to make a choice to be thankful or to be ungrateful. It makes a big difference in how you feel and think and treat other people.

The holidays point us towards gratitude

Holidays are a time for giving...not just gifts but giving thoughts and giving meaning and giving assistance to others.

Talk with your family and friends about what you can do to give to other people. Maybe collect money and give it to your favorite charity. Perhaps a local family could use help with Christmas gifts for their children or paying a bill. How can you help a neighbor? How can you give back?

Gratitude is a source of energy. A wellspring. It always makes me happy and instantly relaxes and increases me. My heart and mind fill up with positive feelings and ideas for helping and giving. I get so excited! That's part of why I love gratitude. It's good for me.

Gratitude is a good and generous intention and it's a healthy choice.

Gratitude is a conscious way to live your life daily.

Gratitude is your deepest desire. It's the biggest and best thing in you.

We have a beautiful obligation to everyone we meet to support and encourage their gratitude. To say thank you and to promote gratitude by asking...
What are you grateful for?

PART 3

Start a Gratitude Journal -- Each night before you go to bed write down three things you're grateful for. It could be one word or one sentence. It's a thank you note. The purpose - to be conscious of your specific gratitude and to actively encourage and strengthen the very best thing in you...your deepest desire...to thank the world for giving you so much.

"I'm grateful for moon light shining across the sea...Grateful for my friend Susan's thoughtfulness...grateful for turtle doves...sunrise...the scent of a fresh lemon...hot coffee."

I close with two quotes about gratitude. The message is clear.
Which do you prefer?

'Gratitude is a burden, and every burden is made to be shaken off.'
- Denis Diderot - Philosopher

'Thank You is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.'
- Alice Walker - Author of The Color Purple