When is it that people look for favours? It’s when they are in trouble. No matter your spiritual beliefs – humans tend to look to some higher power in whatever form that takes – for help.
But shouldn’t we just more aware in general what we area thankful for before disaster strikes? Expressing gratitude is something that I am not claiming to have some higher knowledge on but going through a few bumps lately have come to realize the luxury of what I take for granted as a “normal” day. Gratitude adds the sobering dash of perspective that may be lost upon ourselves or the ones around us. But wait, there’s more! It may even come to benefit yourself!
It is proven by psychologists Dr. Emmons and Dr. McCullough suggest that there are emotional and interpersonal benefits from expressing gratitude on a more regular basis in their study, “Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life”. Their suggestion shows that if a person kept a regular journal, either daily or weekly, that this will generally improve your life . So, I took their suggestion – and even in the honeymoon stages of my new habit I found small and quiet changes.
When I walked home from the library I found I was thankful for some of the beauty that Wolfville had to offer. We are all aware of the stunning marque that frames the Al Whittle Theatre, but the glow that it offered felt a little brighter for a few more steps. I thought to myself, what a great idea to pair it with a coffee shop. I am thankful for that. Somewhere I can go and they know my awful/pretentious order and can study for hours. I am thankful for that comfort. Where I can run into peers and profs alike. I am (99%) thankful for that. Right beside the trusty Muddy’s. Wolfville’s community and it’s existence is something to be thankful for.
Another similar study expands on similar thoughts that I was stringing together which were related. The thankfulness for the “invisibles” in my life that others do not have the privilege of experiencing that I take for granted such as my education, food security, and my relationships that I have with my good friends and family just to name a few.
The study by Dr. Davidi and Dr. Gilovich pont out what they call “invisibles in their research called, “The headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry: An availability of bias in assessment barriers and blessings”. They label these factors as “headwinds” or “tailwinds” in the frame of the metaphor of an athlete such as a runner, a bicyclist (or personal my fav) a kayaker. When you are paddling against the current and the wind, all you can think about is “if I could just get past this current I would be fine”. Once you have the wind at your back you are thankful for … about 2 whole minutes. This study finds similarly in the first that there are positive effects to the “emotional and interpersonal” aspect of our lives when we come to recognize these “invisible” blessings in our lives. Showing gratitude has a heightened effect on the well-being of ourselves and the ones around us.
Something that I found after I was keeping a bullet point journal was the behaviour of others. It is not to say problems are not valid in our lives but sometimes we can expel ourselves of some unnecessary stresses or concerns. Which can be hard at times and proves that being happy is hard work and a choice over the things that we can control. Frankly, it’s tiresome at times. But, I would consciously notice when others were complaining more often. That made me thankful for my friends which were actively positive. It’s not that I am free from complaining myself (ask my mom and or the lady at the make-up counter at Shoppers), but after complaining I am really trying to follow it up with a “thank you so much for listening to me rant” or the thought of “you know what, some people don’t dream of the problems that I have”. Basically, what I am trying to tell you is that I am better than you now because I am SUPER self-aware. No, wait that was supposed to be sent to your brain subliminally so that I can appear to be humble. What message I do have is that being positive is hard mental work but I think something that should be rewarded to yourself and your loved ones.
How should you start? Keep a bullet point journal beside your bed, text yourself what you are thankful for, write a positive comment or review online, or a letter to a loved one and let them read it to show how much you value them. Showing gratitude is not showing a weakness but your own strength of character and love. Being courteous is just a habit so start now. OR, just complain about something and write for the Ath!