An Attitude of Gratitude
Of all the things that come out of my mouth while teaching, the one that makes me roll my eyes at myself the most is when I talk about having an ‘attitude of gratitude’. It’s cute. It’s rhymes. It’s memorable, but it’s also lost all its power from over-saturation. Yet, cohort after cohort hears me say it multiple times and I even have a slide dedicated to just this idea! Why, you must be wondering, would I give this silly little saying so much attention?
The simple answer is because it works, even though it elicits an inner eyeroll from me every time I hear myself say it. What I mean is, the concept isn’t just trendy, it is actually an essential lesson for living a happy life in adulthood, autistic or not.
“When we add gratitude into our routine, pretty cool stuff begins to happen.”
Folks that practice an ‘attitude of gratitude’ take the time to observe and reflect upon what they are thankful for in their lives. This creates more positive emotions, making them feel more alive, sleep better, have higher self-esteem, have improved quality of life, and even have stronger immune systems. In fact, anchoring your week by writing or sharing your reflections on moments you are thankful for, can actually increase your well‑being and overall life satisfaction. I mean, how much more can you ask for from a silly little saying?
Having shared the unbeatable benefits of gratitude with you, I think it’s time for a few easy ways to begin growing the gratitude in your life:
Be Grateful for All of It
It’s not just life’s “BIG THINGS” that we need to be appreciative of. Sure, they are the easy and obvious, but the “small things” are just as important. Make sure you find the stuff to be grateful for, no matter the size. It creates the motivation to keep you moving forward.
It is really easy to forget your gratitude practice when you are in the midst of a struggle. But that is exactly when you need it most. In fact, the ability to practice gratitude in the most challenging of times is the backbone to building resilience. When things are at their worst, challenge yourself to find the ways that “it could be worse”. There is a lesson in each and every challenge.
Pay It Forward
The key to any good gratitude practice is giving back. Meaning, when you are feeling grateful for something or someone, it’s time to pay it forward. That can take many forms. Anything from volunteering your time, donating funds, or actively expressing your gratitude in some other way. Gratitude, like joy, is better when shared.
Create and Share Joy
You may begin to notice that one of the side effects of growing the gratitude in your life is a marked increase in happiness. That means it’s working! Gratitude and joy encourage each other growth. More Gratitude = More Joy AND More Joy = More Gratitude. In other words, the more you notice what you are grateful for, the happier you are, AND the more you are happy, the more you have to be grateful for. So, get out there and seek, create, and share all the joys in your life!
Gratitude is one of those things that seems almost too simple to be effective. Push those thoughts aside and commit yourself to a gratitude practice. Whether it’s a daily journal, a weekly list, or a series of questions you ask yourself in the really dark moments, finding the silver linings in your life is a fundamental practice for a happy, thriving life.