Saturday, September 6, 2014

What are you grateful for?

So how many times have you heard "have an attitude of gratitude" or "It's not happy people who are grateful, but grateful people who are happy"?  Lately it seems there has been a flood of folks on my facebook feed posting and tagging each other with what they are grateful for.  I was just tagged by my friend Kerry.  I have known Kerry since we were kids and although we go for many months without catching up, when we do connect it feels like no time has passed.  That kind of friendship is rare and something I cherish and am incredible grateful for.  So when she tagged me in a post about 5 days of gratitude I thought I would blog instead.
So the five days of gratitude is similar to the ice bucket challenge in the fact that you are asked to publicly post something on facebook and then call out others to do the same.  The idea is to have the movement take on a life of its own.
Many people may not know but this movement is based in scientific studies that showed that writing down blessing every day lead to feelings of happiness, being less depressed and even getting addicted to the exercise (Seligman, Martin.E.P. Flourish, Free Press, NY 2013)  For more info on Seligman's work, check out his website.
I was introduced to the effects of gratitude many years ago and began including that into my every day.  Each night before bed my family and I list the top three things we are grateful for that day.  Some days it is easy and others not so much.  No matter how I am feeling or what kind of day it was I spend time thinking through my day to recognize what I am truly grateful for.  My kids and I can always find something - even if it is something simple.  This process allows us to end our day in a positive place and appreciating all the things that we have in our lives.  That doesn't mean that we ignore or are in denial of our problems or issues... not at all.  It means we recognize our blessings and that gives us the strength and the motivation to handle our problems and not dwell on them longer than the time needed to deal with them appropriately.  It is about being more resilient and realistic!

Asking yourself "what are you grateful for?" for five days on facebook is great - 10 days even better - making it a daily habit like brushing your teeth - that can be life altering!!!! 

So here is my challenge to everyone out there who has been tagged in a three day or five day or 30 day challenge - keep going!  Keep going and make it part of your life and you will see that not only will you identify more things you are grateful for every day but you will begin to notice more positive and bring more positive energy to your life each and every day.  Think about what happens when you put your energy into something new, you start to see that everywhere.  If you decide to buy a new car, the model and make of the car you are looking out seems to appear out of no where. The reality is that they were always there but you have now brought that into your consciousness and you recognize it more often.  Same is true of gratitude.  When you bring positive experiences and thoughts into consciousness every day - your start to recognize those experiences more often in your every day.  Try it, you will see!
So thank you Kerry for nominating me for this challenge and I promise to continue each and every day! 
For today:
  • I am grateful for friends like Kerry in my life that mean so much to me.
  • I am grateful for my family and all of the things I learn from my children every day.
  • I am grateful for the beauty of NJ and my community.
  • I am grateful for the health of my family.
  • I am grateful for the flexibility I have with my own business and the chance to take on volunteer projects with MS society and school PTO.

I challenge everyone reading this blog to start today with something that you are grateful for and keep going until it becomes a part of your every day!

If you or someone you know is stressed or anxious and considering counseling services in Summit NJ or life coaching via telephone or if you are looking for a workshop on positive psychology and increasing optimism feel free to connect with me! to check out me or my services or wellness workshops or you can contact me at 908-337-3710 for a free phone consultation.
Cara Maksimow, LCSW, CPC