Postworksavvy Gratitude and the Longer View

Gratitude is usually understood with a short-term focus.

Taking time every day to make a gratitude list is one way to stay focused on the good things that happen and the small pleasures that bring on smiles.

Whether in a gratitude journal or in a thankfulness list, it is common to find three to five things each day for which to be grateful.

Take a Longer View

taking the long view
Gratitude – Taking the long view – image courtesy of gurdonark

Sometimes it is worthwhile to take a longer view.

On occasion it helps to look back over a week or a month when making a gratitude list.  Taking a longer view is especially useful during those times when many things mis-fire.

For example, last week my three-year old Toyota wouldn’t start and when the towing service arrived, I found that the car needed a new battery.  Two days later, someone hit the front fender of my car in the grocery store parking lot and left me with repairs that totalled over $600.  The following day, while en route to the body shop, a tire blew.  While the damaged tire was under warranty, I needed to buy a matching tire as using a new tire on the same axle as a 3-year-old tire would not work well.

Overall, I paid over $1000 in unexpected car maintenance and repairs.

I was unhappy.

Then I considered how fortunate that I was to have an automobile club membership which meant that the tow truck that came to my home and replaced the battery did not charge a service fee.  I paid only for the replacement battery.  The tire blowout happened on a city street when I was travelling about 60 km/hour and not on the highway where I would have gone faster.  The fender damage was unlucky — but in the grand scheme of things, it was only metal.  I was not hurt.

As I gained perspective I began to consider the best thing that happened during the week.  I had trouble deciding.  Was it the carrot cake that I made for my daughter-in-law’s birthday which was much appreciated by everyone at her party?  Was it finding —  in a seldomly-used purse — a silver pen that had been a cherished retirement gift?  Was it the volunteer time that I spent reading and editing copy for a memoir that a charity will soon publish?

Gratitude and Happiness

The positive psychology movement has demonstrated that gratitude is a key component of happiness and life satisfaction.

Negative thoughts, bitterness, envy, fear and self-pity happen to all of us on occasion.  These feelings can lead to a downward spiral that drains energy and leads to crankiness and ‘down’ moods.

When this happens, a small change in how you see things and/or how you think about things can help you move out of a pessimistic funk and into a happier place.  It’s time to practise gratitude.

The Skill of Practising Gratitude

breathe
Practising Gratitude – Breathing — image courtesy of shawnzrossi

Taking a moment to practise gratitude when things go wrong is a skill you can learn.

Instead of a mini-melt-down try taking a few deep breaths.  As you exhale, count your blessings, recite a gratitude mantra, and appreciate the moment.  As you keep taking deep breaths, think about how you can respond positively to whatever is happening.

This simple step is a method of practising gratitude.  It will make you pause and will allow you to see things differently.

It may be a bad day in several areas of life — so take a longer view.  Think of the many things that have enriched your life.  Appreciate those who love you.  Remember the things that have inspired you and shaped your life.

Practising gratitude will help to shift your perspective.  Things start to look different.  The way you view and perceive things can change with gratitude and a longer view.

 

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4 Replies to “Postworksavvy Gratitude and the Longer View”

  1. You have reminded me how important gratitude is in my daily life. Thank you. Even the bad times present some note that adds to the music of my life. I am linking to your blog in my sidebar. I love retirement too.

    b

    1. Jeanette Lewis says: Reply

      It is so easy to take life’s blessings for granted. Thanks for adding a link to this blog to your sidebar.
      I will do the same for your blog as I enjoy your posts.
      Be well, Jeanette

  2. I am really enjoying your reflections on retirement Jeanette. It sounds like retired life is good for you! I am looking forward to retiring in about 2 years, and recently started a project with my Spiritual Director … “praying my way into retirement”. Like you, I am looking for the blessings in my present job, what is it I still need to learn, and what do I need to do to prepare for the transition to the next phase of my life. Your writing is inspirational! Thank you!

    1. Jeanette Lewis says: Reply

      Hi Robin,
      Yes, retirement has been good for me. I am happy to hear that you are beginning to prepare for retirement as the psychological preparation makes the transition so much easier.
      With retirement, I am finding the Jeanette that was hidden deep inside of the career woman and I am enjoying that new/old persona. Spending time with my husband and with good friends is a treat. I go to the gym most mornings and then amuse myself with long-neglected hobbies. Continuing education courses and writing blog posts keep my mind active. The learning never stops!
      Be well,
      Jeanette

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