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The Top 10 Habits of Grateful People…Even In Tough Times

The Top 10 Habits of Grateful People…Even In Tough Times

    “‘Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” — Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

    It is no secret that gratefulness is correlated with life satisfaction and happiness. Countless research findings, particularly in the rapidly emerging field of Positive Psychology, have shown that gratefulness and life satisfaction go hand in hand.  Those who tend to be more grateful rather than bitter are generally more positive, more satisfied with their lives, and will be able to see the silver lining even on cloudy days.

    Despite this intuitive understanding of the importance of gratefulness, all too often when life throws us curve balls, this grateful mindset all but disappears. It certainly is easier to be grateful when you are on a winning team and things go in your favor. However, the true test of resiliency and gratefulness is when life does not go your way. If you find yourself losing more than you are winning, and can’t seem to get over past regrets, disappointments and life’s injustices, gratefulness is overturned by a sense of injustice. Experiencing loss, frustration and even trauma, especially if we feel blindsided, certainly can make it difficult not to indulge in negative feelings.  After all, we might wonder, when things go wrong what really do we have to be grateful about? 

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    No matter what happens to us, if we “dig deep” we often can find that there is really plenty to be thankful for in our lives. The following are the 10 top habits of people who remain steadfast in their ability to be grateful, and can temper the blows life gives them with an unwavering “attitude of gratitude” mindset:

    1. Grateful people don’t expect that life is going to give them everything they deserve.  They realize that good things do not always happen to good people, and they have given up the notion that life “owes them” anything more than it can offer.  Cancer, afflictions, and even the death of innocent people are unfortunately part of life. Tsunamis and natural disasters can wipe out even a community of unsuspecting people, and the unfairness of life is regrettable and tragic for sure. The question is not if life is unfair, but can we move on in spite of it.
    2. They do not have preconditions to their happiness. They do not think “If this happens”  only then “I will be happy.” They understand happiness is not coming from the outside, but from within. They focus more on their adjustment to what happens rather than try to change what can not be changed.They do not attempt to micromanage people and things in their lives that are not really in their control.
    3. People who are grateful have realized that you can not have the rainbow without the rain. Furthermore, they know that you don’t have honey without the bee, and you can’t  have the rose without the thorns. They see rainy days as a normal part of life rather than an aberration, and learn from the rain rather than just wait for it to go away. They admire the beauty of the rose even though it has its thorny side, and savor the sweet taste of honey even though the bee can sting. Realizing you can not have one without the other, they are grateful for both.
    4. Grateful people have hope. No matter what happens, hope is not lost. They realize the future is uncertain, and while they plan for it, they do not try to micromanage outcomes that are beyond their sphere of influence. They take comfort in the fact that once the sun sets, it rises the next day. They have faith that there is more to life. They hack life rather than feel hacked by life.
    5. Those who are steeped in bitterness and grudges have no space in their heart to be grateful. Forgiving your spouse for not being as understanding as you would have been, forgiving your children for making choices that would not have been your own, and giving up the grudge of a slight or injustice from a friend, are all parts of the gratitude equation. Forgive others for not acting or being like you had hoped. Maybe you need to set limits on your interaction with them, or distance yourself altogether as in the case of abuse, but carrying the torch of bitterness is going to hurt you more than them. As Buddha said, “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
    6. People who are grateful know that a grateful attitude takes work. Gratefulness does not always come naturally, especially in the most challenging times.  In such times, grateful people work on keeping a good perspective.  They might read affirmations, seek support form others, get help for their sadness or anxiety. Some will seek counseling and do not shy away from the effort it takes.
    7. Grateful people have healthy thinking habits. They go by the motto, “Think Straight – Feel Great!”  They can separate their perceptions from the facts and separate rational from victim-like irrational ways of thinking. For example, they will replace victim self- talk such as “They make me so mad” to victor self-talk such as “I was mad when they did that.”  All-or-nothing irrational thinking such as “It’s awful” and “I can’t stand it” is reserved for the most life threatening circumstance, rather than everyday petty annoyances and slights.
    8. Grateful people are flexible in their thinking. People who think flexibly are at an advantage in life, as flexibility is the key to growth and wisdom. They don’t cling stubbornly with ways of thinking that do not work, and do not need to see a shift in attitude as meaning a personal defeat and referendum of how wrong they used to be. They realize they can choose their perceptions and have a right to change their minds. With this mentality, the doors that close yield others that  now become open.
    9. People who love to learn tend to be grateful. Each setback or unforeseen life event offers us lessons, and grateful people focus more on the lessons they can get out of each situation rather than the disappointments. After all, life is a great teacher and teaches us things that no one ever could. Even mistakes and failures are seen as learning opportunities.
    10. Grateful people define their self worth by their determination and their dreams, not their regrets and disappointments. A grateful mindset has no room for excessive self-recrimination and low self esteem. People who are stuck in past regrets and see themselves as losers in life or as having failed badly in even certain areas of their lives will not be able to be truly grateful. Positive self esteem sets the foundation for gratefulness. So if you are down on yourself, this is a time to get a mental health tune up!

    How about starting a Gratefulness campaign in your own life?  Start now by writing down at least 10 things you are thankful for. How about sharing some of them by commenting below?

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    (By the way…thanks for reading. I am very grateful!)

    (Photo credit: Thank You Handwritten on Sand via Shutterstock)

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    Judy Belmont

    Mental health author, motivational speaker and psychotherapist

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    Last Updated on January 3, 2020

    The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

    The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

    Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

    The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

    1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

    Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

     I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

    To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

    And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

     2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

    Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

    3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

    Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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    4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

    The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

    5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

    Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

    6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

    Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

    7. Positive people smile a lot!

    When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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    8. People who are positive are great communicators.

    They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

    9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

    One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

    10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

    Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

    How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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    I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

    Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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