One of the fastest ways to ruin your life is to take everything for granted. Feel you’re owed everything—it’s rightfully yours, and if it isn’t, it’s because someone else is hoarding it instead of giving it to you.
When you step back and say the words out loud, it sounds like a ridiculous attitude. You probably know someone who feels that way. It’s a seductive way of thinking: you don’t have to work for it, you just have to want it!
The key to keeping that kind of entitlement mentality in check is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Gratutude is one of those concepts that should permeate our lives, but we tend to only think about it at specific times. Like Thanksgiving.
Gratitude is being thankful for what you have and how you got it. It’s the perfect antidote to an entitlement mentality. It’s realizing there’s plenty of pie to go around.
Here are five ways that adopting an attitude of gratitude will improve the quality of your life:
- Socially. Gratitude helps you remember that for every good thing in your life, there is someone on the other end that’s responsible for it. Without our families, who love us so dearly; our friends, who enjoy hanging out with us, too; the chef, who prepared that fabulous meal; the waitress, who served it so attentively; or God, from whom all blessings flow; we’d be pretty lonely. The best things in life come back to relationships.
- Emotionally. Gratitude focuses you on what’s good in your life. On what you have, instead of what you don’t have. Once you see all the good around you, you naturally want to start increasing that good and adding to what’s good in the lives of others.
- Mentally. Gratitude keeps you rooted. It brings a presence of mind that connects you to the here and now. You accept and acknowledge the past, good or bad, but you don’t dwell there. You look to the future optimistically, but you don’t put your life on pause waiting for better times to come. You act on today, grateful for the good things that you have and able to clearly plan how to increase the goodness, both for yourself and those around you.
- Physically. According to a study by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, the physical benefits of gratitude include longer and better sleep, increased energy to be active and exercise, lower blood pressure, and a stronger immune system. Not bad benefits for changing your attitude!
I usually stop at four dimensions of our lives, but for the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to add a fifth.
- Financially. In Love Your Life, Not Theirs, author Rachel Cruze attacks the comparisonism that’s so prevalent in society today. A happy, successful, secure life “starts with a grateful heart. There is no room for discontentment in a heart filled with gratitude.” Until we can get that discontentment under control, we will always be keeping up with the neighbors next door, trying to out-live our Instagram feeds, and fill a void in our hearts with stuff—a void that should be full of gratitude.
Gratitude isn’t feeling like you don’t deserve anything good. Just remember that you earn your reward but serving others. Focus on helping other people get what they want and you’ll get what you want.
All the people who are grateful for your help will take care of that.