Gratitude: A Personal Development Tool

Personal Development is a unique journey for each individual.  As such, there are different ways you can accomplish personal development.  The key is to start somewhere and if you are like most people, you can get overwhelmed by all the personal development tools that are available to you. Sometimes this can lead to indecision and no improvement whatsoever.

One of the most beneficial tools I have used is gratitude.  The concept of gratitude or being grateful for what you have is great place to start. How might you put gratitude to work for you? Well, let’s take a look.

Each morning when you wake, think about what you are grateful for. I know some mornings getting out of bed is a chore and I wish I could sleep more. What I fail to do on those days is cherish waking up at all. Or the fact that I am employed and I’m physically able to go to work. I have found when I start my day on a high note, it starts good things happening during the day. What can you be grateful for? What about your family, your nice warm bed, the breakfast or cup of coffee you are about to enjoy? What are you thankful for? What could you focus on in the morning giving thanks instead of complaining.

Another way gratitude can help is if you keep a journal about things you are thankful for. I ask my clients to start by writing five things each day they are grateful for in a notebook or journal. The only rule is that each day must be five new things. Try it, keep your notebook or journal with you at all times so you can jot down notes if you need to.  Why? This way, whenever you are feeling down, or feeling as if you don’t have anything, you can open your gratitude journal and see all the things you like about your life. It doesn’t have to be huge things you are thankful for either. Even if you are thankful for jellybeans or the smile you received from a total stranger, that counts!

Express your gratitude for those around you who make your life a better place. We all spend a lot of time complaining about the people who make us miserable, why not take that time and talk about people who make us happy! Notice, when you do, how your energy changes. It’s hard to be miserable when you focus on what you ARE grateful for.

Look for ways to show your gratitude to others. You may not have much money, but you can write them a kind note or smile and say good morning. You can do a friend a favor, babysit, or cook them a meal. Showing your gratefulness helps other people to do the same. Everyone has a tough time in life from time to time, so it is a good thing when you can alleviate someone else’s suffering. In doing so, you lift your spirits as well and increase your feelings of gratitude.

Finally, before you go to bed at night, think of times during the day where you were not grateful, but could have been. As you reflect, can you find things that you are grateful for in the situation? Take a moment and feel grateful for it now, even if you missed it earlier.  It is never too late.

Now, it doesn’t matter who you give thanks to. If you are religious, you may wish to thank God, but if you are not, it is perfectly fine to feel gratitude in your heart for who and what you have in your life. It is important to your personal development to feel grateful. For in doing so, you open yourself up to endless opportunities that you may have missed otherwise. A new friendship, a new job, a new relationship … the sky is the limit.

Allow a little gratitude into your life, it can grow into something that is beautiful in your life. If you want to see your life blossom, focus on feeling gratitude. Start small and work your way up.

Gratitude … such a beautiful feeling.