Kay Simmeth Counseling Group

Individual and Relational Counseling, EMDR Therapy and Consulting

Cultivating a Habit of Gratitude

Celebrating Thanksgiving is a good time to be reminded of the value of developing the daily habit of gratitude.

One thing I’m grateful for is the time I get to spend with my clients. It’s rewarding to work with people who have made a choice to engage in the hard work of clearing out the blocks that keep you from living the life you want.

Amy and Jana join me in saying thank you for sharing your life with us this past year. We hope you have much to be grateful for this holiday season.

— Kay

express gratitude habit

Cultivating a Habit of Gratitude

We’ve all had moments where we’ve felt a natural thanksgiving or gratitude. Maybe someone did a favor that meant a great deal or invited you to an unexpectedly enjoyable event. Perhaps it was enjoying a walk or run on a beautiful day after a busy week.

The experience of gratitude often stems from surprisingly ordinary life events, which is why developing a habit of gratitude can be effective as a daily activity.

The words thanks, gratitude and giving derive from the word grace and refer to meaningful, authentic ways to acknowledge the grace in our lives. Too often, however, we are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives.

Gratitude is a perception, a way of looking at things, and an attitude of gratitude is a cornerstone of long-term mental and physical health. Numerous long-term studies suggest that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

But for gratitude to reach its full healing potential in our lives and the lives of our family, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. When we practice giving thanks verbally for all we have instead of complaining about what we lack, we give our ourselves — and those around us — the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.

There are many things to be grateful for — from cooler weather to friends who listen, the ability to read to being alive. We begin to cultivate gratitude by noticing the concrete ways in which the world supports us each day.

Overcoming the obstacles to gratitude

Practicing gratitude also includes overcoming the three main obstacles to gratitude: self-preoccupation, expectation, and entitlement.

Self-preoccupation leads us to focus our attention on our problems, difficulties, aches and pains. Similarly, focusing on our expectations means we often only notice when those expectations go unmet. It’s easier to be frustrated when a light bulb goes out rather than being grateful each evening for the light. And feelings of entitlement make it difficult to see the good things in our lives as a gift.

Cultivating a habit of gratitude takes effort, but it’s something the whole family can get involved in. No one is too young or too old to be thankful. Consider adding a gratitude exercise into your daily routine. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Use your calendar for more than getting organized – add something you’re grateful for each day.
  • Set an example in your workplace by verbalizing your gratitude. It’s an attitude that can be contagious!
  • With young children, make up a gratitude game to enjoy around the dinner table. For example ask, “what are you thankful for that starts with the letter “A”?
  • When faced with a frustrating or difficult situation consciously choose to find something in it to be grateful for.

As we practice gratitude, bit-by- bit an inner shift begins to occur. We may even be delighted to discover how content and hopeful we feel. This sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.

Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications

Next Steps

With all the healthy practices we suggest in these posts, we recognize that the thought of getting rid or an old habit or starting a positive one can feel like it requires herculean effort. It’s not intended to be that way.

Sometimes experiences from our past get in the way of being able to recognize what we have to be grateful for. When that happens, working with a therapist to clear out old wounds or process trauma can help those experiences lose their power over us. When we make space for gratitude, practicing it becomes much easier.

We use a variety of therapy methods, including EMDR, which has been effective in helping release people from the power fear and shame can have on their lives. . To make an appointment with Kay, Amy or Jana, please call our office at 818-681-6627.

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