- What do you value most? (0:55)
- Why knowing your values matters (1:35)
- How to recognize a values violation (2:55)
- 3 simple ways you can practice gratitude (4:10)
- How to shift your anxiety through gratitude (5:25)
- Your turn… (6:40)
Attitude of Gratitude
November is upon us, and you know what that means – it’s time for some Gratitude!
I don’t know when I decided that November was going to be my month of gratitude. Don’t get me wrong – I try to practice it all the time, but November is the month I’ve chosen to devote each day to something or someone different. Each year my list changes slightly, but I always feel so amazing while I’m being thankful for all that I have and all that I am.
Gratitude is extremely important to me because it’s my number one value. When I’m living aligned with my values, everything in my life flows easier. Allow me to explain a little more…
What Do You Value Most?
I took an assessment that identified my 24 values (or character strengths), and it has been LIFE-CHANGING!
This information is so critical that every human being should be armed with it. Instead of introducing myself and saying, “Hi! I’m Shawna,” I wish we could say, “I have Gratitude, Fairness, Humor, Love, and Kindness in my top five.” It would make things a lot easier for me…
When we understand our own values – why we think, feel, and act the way we do – we can also begin to understand others, as well.
Gratitude is my numero uno!
Why Knowing Your Values Matters
Fairness is my number two, and I could never understand why other people weren’t as enraged as I was by things that were so unfair. I spent my entire life thinking something must be wrong with me because I would get so upset when things were unfair while other people didn’t seem to care at all.
It’s just because they don’t have Fairness as one of their top values like I do.
What a relief!
This understanding has been critical for my own peace and freedom. When we can understand which buttons are being pushed, we can make decisions based on actual information rather than flying blind in the dark.
Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology and the director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, created the assessment I’ve been talking about. Through his research, he defines Gratitude as the following—
“You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.”
I really love this definition because we all know what Gratitude means, but I always have a hard time putting it into words – his definition nails it!
How to Recognize a Values Violation
There are three important factors with each value: opposite, absence, and excess.
The opposite of Gratitude is Entitlement.
The absence of Gratitude is Rudeness.
An excess of Gratitude is Ingratiation.
When I encounter people who are entitled, rude, or try to ingratiate themselves with me, I have a huge physical reaction … and not a good one, either. It’s like nails on a chalkboard!
This is my clue that something is out of alignment for me.
And what the assessment says rings true, because I CAN’T stand people who are entitled, rude, or work too hard to get on my good side.
These behaviors bother me more than someone who doesn’t have Gratitude in their top values. And that’s a relief because now I know why I’m the only person who’s climbing up the wall when Entitled Patricia is around (relax – I just picked that name; I don’t even know anyone named Patricia, so don’t send me Patricia hate mail), and no one else seems to care.
I CARE! And now I know why.
And almost every time you have a strong physical reaction to something, it is almost always from a values violation.
Now back to my gratitude practice…
3 Simple Ways You Can Practice Gratitude
When I can actively focus on what I’m thankful for, I feel happier, more at peace, and less stressed, and I can overlook some irritations that come along.
And that’s total freedom!
So, what is practicing gratitude? I’ve found it looks different for everyone. Here are some suggestions that I’ve tried, but ultimately, take what works for you and leave the rest!
- List 3 to 5 things you’re grateful for in your journal, first thing in the morning or at night.
- In any given moment, pause and list 3 to 5 things you’re grateful for to shift your attitude, focus, or mood.
- Try to find the good in a difficult situation. There’s always something good to be pulled out.
I always say that gratitude is a game changer! Because it really is!
Gratitude has the ability to change your life, thoughts, or attitude in just seconds. And who doesn’t need an attitude shift?
How to Shift Your Anxiety through Gratitude
Here’s a fun fact: You cannot be anxious and grateful at the same time. Go ahead; try it! It won’t work.
Anxiety and gratitude are processed in two different parts of the brain, so if you’re feeling anxious, list 3 things you’re grateful for, and it will shift your anxiety.
My husband gets a little irritated with me when he’s feeling anxious – usually when we’re on a plane – and I ask him to give me 3 things he’s grateful for. He always starts the same way, a little snarky: “My wife, my house, my dog – UGH.” He knows what I’m doing 🙂
So, of course, then I ask him for 3 more things, and he gives me some more attitude, but he also lists 3 more things. Then I really go in for the kill, and I ask him for 3 additional things…
He rolls his eyes and gives me a little smirk, but the tone of his voice has changed (which is how I know it’s working) … now he’s less anxious.
He admits that it’s annoying to him when he’s in the middle of the anxiety, but it works every time.
So, try irritating your loved ones!
Gratitude brings more happiness, joy, and optimism to our lives. It blocks negative emotions.
It can help you sleep better, lower your blood pressure, and improve your immune systems.
The benefits go on and on…
So, let’s practice some gratitude!
Your Challenge for this Week: Practice Gratitude
Every single day in November, write down 3 things that you’re grateful for. The only rule: You can’t list the same thing twice.
See what happens. See what you notice. What changes? How do you feel?
Download the handout below for inspiration. It has 30 prompts that can help you figure out what you’re grateful for – one for each day of this month.
Let me know what you think, and let me know how it’s going. You can email me or leave a comment below, or we can continue the conversation over in my Find Your Feisty Community on Facebook. I’ll be running weekly challenges there and so much more!
p.p.s. The holidays are coming, so I’m also hosting an entertaining call about how to survive the holidays! Less stress, more fun! Details coming soon!
Get 30 Prompts for Gratitude Journaling (PDF)