When each year begins, I like to take a day and reflect on all the things I am grateful for that I encountered the previous year. This brings me to this month’s topic.

You see I learnt a few years ago that being thankful for what I have is not about the quantity of things I have acquired but appreciating my experiences day to day. For many years I felt much unfulfilled with my life and who I was. Only when I started taking stock of what was working that I realized that it was not all bad. Just a few aspects I would tweak and I’d feel much better.

Having a thankful spirit is more than just saying thank you every time someone does something nice for you it goes far beyond just the words. Being thankful means that you will have a heart of gratitude which is more a lifestyle than a gesture.

The reason most people are leading miserable lives is because they stopped focusing on what was working but dwell on all the things going wrong in their lives. You see when you think of how bad things are, the worse they get. That’s just how life goes. The lack of gratitude creates a lot of disharmony in our lives because in this state, nothing is ever enough. We chase our dreams and goals endlessly and even when we achieve them, we do not realize as we are still too busy looking at what went wrong; comparing ourselves to someone else…, thinking we deserved more than we got…. This becomes like trying to fill water in a leaking bucket and getting more frustrated the more we try to fill it.

"Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate

on what on don’t have, you will never ever have enough." – Oprah Winfrey

Lack of gratitude causes us to be bitter and angry because we seem to fail every time we try something or someone else always seems to be doing better than we are in whatever we are trying to achieve. This in turn causes resentment, self doubt, fear of trying and many other ills I do not care to dwell on here.

Lack of gratitude also causes us to be self absorbed which gives us a victim mentality where we think the world owes us or you deserve more. Being grateful will make you appreciate other people and be able to recognize that they may be having more challenges than you.

Focusing on being thankful, here are a few benefits of practicing gratitude;

Being grateful gives a heart of joy

When we are grateful, we get to see that life in itself is a gift and therefore we should cherish it. The fact that you woke up today means you did not die in your sleep to begin with. The fact that you can read this article means that you have the gift of sight…...you are literate…you have access to a computer and know how to use it….you have internet therefore connected to the world…..you have a roof over your head…..etc. The list is truly endless. Realizing all the above makes us happy and we feel joy.

Improves your relationships

Saying thank you for a start when someone has been of service to you makes you a better person to hang around with. That means you do not take for granted good gestures. Being grateful for the people around you means that you will treat them well and in turn they treat you well and when you meet someone new, they can straight away feel your warmth and acceptance therefore you will make more friends.

“When we practice gratefulness, there is a sense of

respect towards others.” – The Dalai Lama

Enhances your self esteem

Having gratitude means that you will celebrate small successes which lead you to the bigger ones. Being thankful that we have achieved however little you may think puts you in a position to appreciate the next step towards your goal. When we are grateful for who or what we are, then we accept ourselves and because we are able to see achievements, we become more confident that we can do more. We therefore go on to do more.

Promotes health

Your immune systems is said to improve when you have a grateful heart. Stress is minimal because hardly anything will bother you so much to spike your stress level. With a grateful spirit, you do not worry and therefore wade off a myriad of health issues like high blood pressure, heart conditions and others. This is because; your body is in harmony with your mind and soul. You have no conflict oozing out of you and therefore the positive vibrations you are sending rewards you with good health. Do you know someone who is usually cheerful no matter the circumstance? Do you know another who is forever complaining of one thing or other? I bet the one who complains usually has an ache here or there that requires a doctor’s attention and therefore they are usually complaining of not feeling well while the cheerful one remains healthy.

Wades off negative emotions

Negative emotions are brought about by us reinforcing negative thoughts in our minds most of the time such that there’s always something that we think is not going right. When on the other hand we become grateful and see the positive in every situation, then we get solutions to our challenges and therefore we are always giving out positive vibes. The more positive we think, the more positivity we are given.

“A moment of gratitude makes a difference in your attitude.” – Bruce Wilkinson

It reduces jealousy and envy

These two emotions are very self destructive. They are caused by the thought that what someone has achieved has taken away your success and or you would have wanted to get what they got. This causes us to become blind to what is working in our lives. Only when we start practicing gratitude do we get rid of jealousy and envy. We are able to accept and be happy for what others achievements and look forward to our own achievements as well. Other people’s achievement inspire us to chase what we want.

Having gratitude keeps you humble

When you can be able to appreciate what you have in your life what you have achieved, you will realize that you are truly privileged and that you have blessings that you truly did not deserve but just by the grace of God.

Opens up many opportunities

When you are able to be thankful no matter the circumstances, it means you can see a silver lining in every cloud and therefore in this state, you can see an alternative action which will bring a favorable outcome. This leads to new opportunities every time. With more opportunities, you get to be successful and wealthy.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanks giving,

turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities

into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward

In concluding this first part of this article, I urge you to reflect on what you are thankful for in your life. The next part will be on how to practice gratitude in our daily lives.

“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact

gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is

to touch heaven.” – Johannes A. Gaertner