One of the greatest pieces of advice that my mother has ever given me was that “Life is all about perspective.” My mother has been my biggest role model and although she grew up in the home of an alcoholic, lost her birth mother at the age of 4, and sometimes didn’t have much food to eat, she has always been able to see the silver lining. How amazing that the people who are carrying some of the heaviest burdens in life, those who have all the reasons in the world to wallow in self-pity, are some of the most optimistic individuals. Whenever I get in a woe-is-me mentality I have to slap myself out of it, because when I really take the time to consider my life I find that I am often the creator of my own “problems.” While I might not have the hottest new handbag, a perfectly landscaped yard or an awe-inspiring house, I do have a roof over my head, food on my table, a great job and some really amazing family and friends. When I stop putting all of my focus on the things that I don’t have and redirect it to all of the things I do have, only then do I achieve true happiness.
“It’s ironic that the holidays, a time of the year that we spend being grateful for what we have, is so overshadowed by the hustle and bustle of trying to find the perfect gift to give.”
It’s ironic that the holidays, a time of the year that we spend being grateful for what we have, is so overshadowed by the hustle and bustle of trying to find the perfect gift to give. While I am generally not caught up in the material world, this time of the year can invoke some serious “material envy.” All the messages are constant reminders of how product x will make our lives complete or will finally allow us to “keep up with the Joneses.” I don’t know about you, but the only good cure for me is to change my perspective to one of gratitude.
Luckily, On the Move, WELCOA’s online platform that helps employees thrive through physical activity, is dedicating the entire month of December to focus on gratitude. Positive psychology expert MJ Shaar, shared some of her ideas for starting our own personal Gratitude Movement.
- Thank someone who supports you: Some people are there for us no matter what; they fully deserve our gratitude! Find one such person (or two!), and give them a big serving of gratitude.
- Thank your body: We sometimes spend time thinking about what our bodies can’t do… In doing so, we forget all that we CAN do! Our bodies perform amazing work for us all day long, so take a minute to be content about what yours for you.
- Gratitude for food: The food that’s on your plate made it there thanks to the effort of a multitude of different people. Note that this one is easier to feel sincere about when you eat something that comes directly from Mother Nature. The goodness of a home cooked soup not only fills our stomachs better than a bag of Skittles or Cheetos, it also provides better emotional energy.
- Gratitude for your country: If you are reading this, chances are you live in a democracy where human rights are honored – both for men and women. Imagine a life where you couldn’t leave your house, gather with friends, plan your day or pray as you please and you’ll quickly agree that we have much to be grateful for, and it’s worth giving it a thought now and again!
- Gratitude for who you are: We are our own worst critic. It can be very easy to see our own shortcomings and engage in downward social comparisons. So pay yourself a quick gratitude interlude, and start reaping the benefits that come when we build from what’s right.
We all have so many reasons to be grateful and yet we spend such little time reflecting. In my own life, I find that the easiest way to feel gratitude is to begin my nightly prayer with a “moment of thanks” for all of my blessings. Whatever you do this holiday season, I challenge you to choose a perspective of gratitude; it is perhaps the quickest and easiest way to happiness.
Kaitlyn Pauly, Product & Marketing Coordinator