finding something good

November 23, 2022

We hear a lot about how important it is to feel grateful. To remind ourselves of what we have and not just what we don’t.

Gratitude can bring about more happiness and more positive emotional experiences, according to research. It’s also been linked to better health, healthier relationships, and greater resilience in the face of adversity.

Add better decision-making to that list.

Research has connected gratitude with more rational decision-making, likely because it nurtures patience. Patience is a solid antidote to impulsivity, and impulsivity is a huge source of regret.

Gratitude is also associated with a greater tendency to help others, even when the cost to oneself is short-term. This is good for building a sense of social connection, which staves off depression and stress, which reduces the tendency to rush through decisions.

People with grateful dispositions are also more likely to avoid options that are too risky. They’re less likely to dive into things that could clearly bite them in the ass down the line.

Gratefulness also makes one less likely to let feelings of unfairness keep them from having good things, from rejecting real benefits to them simply because those benefits come cloaked in a circumstance that isn’t totally fair. I’ve known too many people to do this: they miss out on amazing opportunities being offered by people who are getting more out of the opportunity than they are.

But according to research, fleeting gratitude isn’t enough. You can’t just stop once in a while to say, “Yeah… I should be grateful for what I have.” It has to be a lifestyle choice. Like brushing your teeth to avoid cavities. Or eating more greens to stave off cancer.

You have to live gratitude. Every day.

If you find yourself spending more time frustrated over what you don’t have than what you do, you could be sliding into having less and less, which would give you even more to be frustrated about. If you don’t override the tendency to be agitated by what's missing in your life – which is totally normal and understandable – you could slide into a less fortunate place. Because you could be making choices (biased choices that you’re totally unaware of) that keep you on that downward slide.

Gratefulness is good medicine. And the great thing about habits – including harmful mental habits – is that they can be changed.

So, if regret weighs you down, or you rush through decisions too much, or you find yourself getting nowhere even though you’re working hard, consider hitting the sack each night making a mental list of all the good things that happened that day. Even if it’s the hardest thing to do. Once you’ve nailed that, set an alarm to remind you to exercise moments of gratefulness throughout the day. The more you practice, the more it becomes part of your routine and your disposition.

Living gratitude is a solid way of improving your chances at a better life. And for those of you celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, there’s no better time to start.

That is all. Have a great holiday!

Nika

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