Attitude of Gratitude

by Madeleine Arnold

IMG_0935It’s mid-November and you know what that means: THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS UPON US.  Next up?  Thanksgiving!  Thanksgiving to me means good food with good company.  It’s about being with the people I love most and eating until I nearly burst.  Side note—they say you don’t realize how much you love something until it’s gone, and being away at college, I definitely feel that way about my mom’s cooking.  Seriously.  But ultimately, Thanksgiving is all about—that’s right—GRATITUDE!

For me, keeping up with schoolwork, still adjusting to the demanding college life, and handling all of the midterm stress, can be… well… stressful!  However, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that even in the midst of whatever life is currently throwing our way, we can choose to be grateful.

On the first night of Utah’s DYW state week for the class of 2017, there was a wonderful guest speaker who said something that really resonated with me.  She pointed out that we are often told to choose happiness.  While perhaps possible, that is really hard to do.  It’s hard to flip a switch in our brains and make ourselves feel happy automatically.  But don’t despair.  There is a short cut to happiness that we have 100% control over, and that’s gratitude.

We can always choose to be grateful.  Gratitude can be felt and expressed completely independent of struggles and life’s inevitable rough patches.

Sometimes I think that when I feel like things are going wrong, it might have less to do with my circumstances and more to do with my lack of ability to see all the good that is there!  The more I work the “muscle” of gratitude, the stronger I become in my ability to recognize the good, and the happier I am!

Just a week ago, one of my dear friends from my state DYW program posted on Instagram.  She explained that she had been stuck in heavy, bumper-to-bumper traffic in the middle of a rainstorm.  As soon as she wanted to complain, she looked up and noticed a rainbow.  She went on to explain how grateful she was for that traffic because it allowed her to stop and experience that beautiful rainbow.  Isn’t she the best example?  (I think so too.)

So, now you know that gratitude is completely within your control, but you still might be wondering just how to choose to have gratitude.  Read on.

Now, I did mention that Thanksgiving is quickly approaching.  Mind you, I’m no pro chef, but I have come up with my own little recipe of sorts.  Only this recipe isn’t for a delicious pumpkin pie (I’ll leave that one to my mom), but a recipe for developing that attitude of gratitude!

  1. Actively look for the good and keep it positive.  Think positively, speak positively, treat others positively.  That positivity will certainly be reflected in how you feel and will result in a thankful heart.
  2. Recognize the good in others and thank them for it!
  3. Go brighten someone else’s day.  We tend to feel the most down or ungrateful when we focus only on our own problems.  I’ve come to find that one of life’s best medicines is selfless service!
  4. Make a gratitude list.  I guarantee you’ll feel more thankful with that lengthy list in hand.
  5. Notice the little things and seek out life’s simple joys.  One of my favorite things to do right now is to look at the beautiful changing leaves or the gorgeous mountains as I walk around campus.  Noticing the beauty all around me makes even the walk to chemistry not so bad!
  6. Finally, remember that CHOOSING GRATITUDE=CHOOSING HAPPINESS.

Lots of love,

Utah

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