Jay Rifenbary

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Gratitude - Your Path to a Positive Attitude

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How’s life? A question commonly asked, but how accurately answered? Does your answer tend to dwell on the negative or the positive? Do you focus on what you don’t have, or share an appreciation of what you do have? Do you reflect on the failures of your past, or forgive yourself and put emphasis on the activities of your present and hopeful successes for your future? Do you frequently demean all the perceived dysfunctional people in your life, or share respect and love for the meaningful people in your life? Do you compare yourself to those you believe have a more fulfilling life and then despair in that comparison, or understand what you may be comparing, such as materialism and title, has minimal to do with ultimately having a fulfilling life? There may be varying degrees of what an individual achieves, but those comparisons and differences are not excuses to not be accountable for the life you presently lead.

When was the last time you took some quiet time to sit back, reflect, and assess the many positive aspects of who you are, what you have accomplished, and the current life you are living? With so many distractions related to living, have we loss the ability to meaningfully live? How have those distractions incorrectly prioritized what you believe to be important in regard to what it means to live a fulfilled and content life? It is easy to become consumed with all the expectations of what you believe you should be, and just as easy to be disappointed when those expectations are not met. It is impossible to generate a positive attitude, nor enjoy life, when you have little gratitude. Gratitude is defined as, “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness:” As author Melody Beattie said, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

An application of the core values you believe in is the cornerstone to building a greater appreciation for who you are, the character you represent, and the example you set every day. If you represent the core value of honesty, be grateful in who you are when you exercise that value. If you represent a core value of family, be grateful in that commitment to those you love even though you may have to sacrifice self-serving interests. If you represent a core value of compassion, be grateful for the ability to provide comfort to others when there are many who tend to be more self-centered then selfless. If you represent a core value of integrity, be grateful that you have the strength and consistent behavior to stand for something you believe in. If you represent a core value of resiliency, be grateful for your ability to persevere and believe in yourself, while many are content to play the role of victim. If you represent a core value of empathy, be grateful for your ability to be understanding of others, their differences and uniqueness rather than judging and using their weaknesses as a way to uplift your own sense of value. As President John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.”

For a moment forget everything and everyone that may add to your disappointment, and decide what aspects of your life you can be grateful for. The phrase “It could always be worse” is not just a cliché, but also a barometer in evaluating many of the good things in your life. If you decide you want more than what you have personally, professionally, spiritually, or materialistically doing nothing will not change anything. Whining does not contribute to gratitude, nor benefit the development of a positive attitude. To develop greater gratitude is to also acknowledge that life is not all about you, but rather a collective spirit of appreciation for one another. The more you think of others the happier and more grateful you will be, because you have the opportunity to share in the joy of those around you.



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