Gratitude and optimism are related in that each requires the seed of the other. Even when you are suffering, if you can find something, no matter how small, to be grateful for, you are more likely to see opportunities to make things better.
Gratitude is sometimes called “Counting your blessings.” My mom used to say that when I was bummed out, but I never quite understood it. Now that I do, it seems so simple!
Living with gratitude
To live with gratitude takes practice and patience. The more you remind yourself to find things that you can be grateful for, the better you get at doing so; and it becomes more natural–almost second nature. If you break your arm and are in severe pain at the Emergency Room, it can be difficult to find gratitude because you may be so focused on the suffering; this is normal. I am challenging you to not think that gratitude makes the pain go away, because it doesn’t. Your arm will still hurt. However, if you can at least notice that you are able to be at the ER, and then be grateful for the expert care you will get, you will find that the pain is slightly more tolerable. It’s not magic, and the pain may still be there, but you’ll have a little better attitude about it.
Practicing gratitude creates overall happiness
Because you are practicing a positive outlook, the positiveness will generalize to other parts of your life over time. For example, the more you practice gratitude when in traffic, you may find that your high pressure meeting at work goes a bit better because you have strengthened the positive, optimistic regions of your brain. Then you are more likely to be seen as a valuable team member, and be more likely to get that promotion, raise or bonus! Notice how similar this is to Optimism.