05/27/2015 02:38 pm ET Updated May 27, 2016

Attitude of Gratitude? (Yeah, Right...)

You've been in a frightful mood these past few weeks. You're living paycheck to paycheck just covering expenses, practicing the fine art of "which credit card do I max out now and who do I pay before my credit is totally ruined?" You're terrified you're going to lose that precious foothold you have on the American Dream, aka your two bedroom, one and a half bath duplex, for you've heard rumors twittered and blogged that your company is considering more layoffs, and what could be more dispensable than your second designer assistant job?

So when your co-worker Miss Perky bounces in, gleaming from her pre-work jog, and flashes her immaculately whitened smile at you, saying: "Tut-tut, I see a gloomy face. Where's your attitude of gratitude?" you feel a roar of displeasure coming on.

OK, well, so you don't roar. It's actually a whimper as you stare resolutely down at your desk, clutching the work you can't seem to get started, and think nasty thoughts, like "Attitude of gratitude, my *%^! Like I have anything to be grateful for... "

Well, you do -- although it certainly may not seem that way right now -- and the more you focus on what you have to be grateful for, what you can appreciate, the more quickly and easily you will lift yourself out of your current woes.

You see, when you are consumed with thoughts of doom, you don't see the opportunities for success and joy all around you. Appreciation and gratitude are not just cute buzzwords. They are very real perceptual choices, which in turn open up very real options for you. You can choose what you pay attention to in your environment, and what you choose to pay attention to has consequences.

When you expend all your energy worrying about the fate of your duplex, you're not looking for ways to hold onto your duplex -- like finding a roommate or finally turning your craft hobby into a source of extra dollars to cover some bills. Your worry becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you are riveted by tales of imminent company disaster, you are not doing all that you can to make your job -- and yourself -- so valuable to the company that you'd be the one person retained despite massive layoffs. If anything, by trailing your misery behind you moaning "It ain't fair" and "Why me?" you make yourself that much less attractive an employee.

An attitude of gratitude, appreciating what you have, what is already in your life, is a way of seeing the opportunities that abound to help you achieve whatever it is you want. Your attention shifts to what is possible, what might be helpful or useful to you in your present circumstances.

So yes, especially when the situation looks foreboding, when it seems circumstances are against you, rouse yourself to an active search for "What could I appreciate here? What could have value for me? What possibility can I be genuinely thankful for?" and go for it with all the energy that the anticipation of success and joy can bring.

Attitude of gratitude? Yes!