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Monday, November 25, 2013

Gratitude!

Leading up to Thanksgiving, many people begin to talk about what they are thankful for. While it may seem cliche, I wanted to talk about what I am grateful for in my life. It seems that during the holidays many people force themselves to express what they are thankful for. But should we really have to force gratitude? Furthermore, why should we confine our expression of gratitude to just one holiday? Gratitude should be something we focus on year round. In fact, I try not save this gratitude for one day out of the year, I try to focus on it every day. It's how I start and end my day.


One of the reasons I love the holiday season is because, starting in mid-November, people begin to prime themselves with the mindset of thankfulness. That collectively changes the mentality and compounds the effects of positive thinking. If you're willing, it's easy to cultivate a positive attitude during the holidays through gratitude (again, if you're willing). The challenge is making this attitude of gratitude last throughout the year.
One of the hardest things for me to do during the day is wake up (or be woken up) and leave the peaceful comfort of the bed with a positive attitude. I don't care how hard I try, I will never wake up with an immediate spring in my step and cartoon bluebirds singing on my shoulder. Instead my first desire becomes to through my alarm clock through the first solid object I see and get back to bed. However, with that attitude present first thing in the morning, it begins an upward battle to change my perspective on what the rest of the day will bring. One of the ways I thwart this and reinforce a positive attitude for the day is to immediately begin listing ways in which I am grateful, either in prayer or meditation. I try to visualize clearly this gratitude as it enters my mind, thus drowning out any negativity or clutter that may exist. It's always beneficial to revisit this list once more before bed time. 
Unfortunately, while a lot of gratitude exists around the holidays, so too does negativity and stress. But don't be absorbed by negativity, instead be the tip of the spear for gratitude! If you actively practice gratitude daily and cultivate a positive attitude, you will find yourself attracting the positive and blocking the negative. Furthermore, you can bring a little holiday joy to the rest of the world all year long. 
There is no doubt that a positive attitude is contagious, and there is no better way to spread good will than to lift up other people in your life. So with that in mind, I'll share my "top 10" gratitude list with hopes that some of it may rub off!.

I am grateful for...

1. My family and friends, who have supported me immensely despite my insanity. The number of people in my life who say "go for it!" far outweigh, and therefore drown out, the people who say "you can't".
2. My wife who, in addition to practicing what's listed in #1, will additionally kick my butt into gear and find new ways to encourage me and others.
3. My kids who inspire me much more than I would hope to inspire them.
4. The fact that unhealthy obsessions and compulsions - such as drinking, smoking, or eating copious amounts of refined sugar - are no longer with me, and that today I can enjoy life without these things much more than I did with them. 
5. God's grace. There is no doubt that today I live in unmerited favor. On a daily basis I want to do my best to glorify Him rather than myself.
6. My willingness to seek out the positive and inspiring rather than be consumed by the negative. 
7. Freedom.
8. The ability to provide a warm, safe environment for my family.
9. That I have the opportunity to practice a healthy lifestyle on a body which I had previously squandered. I am fortunate to be able to find absolute joy and peace in discovering fitness and health.
10. That today I am relieved of anxiety, depression, and discouragement.

Additionally, I am grateful to all of you who have taken the time to follow me here and read this little blog. I enjoy doing it, and hearing the feedback. Have a very happy and grateful Thanksgiving!