the solution for overwhelm

Do you feel like life is out of control and overwhelming? We’ve all been there at some point. It’s easy to slide there, and get stuck there. Little things don’t seem little anymore- every little thing is a big thing!

So, what to do? How do you battle back? Here’s the solution that can positively alter your day before it gets started and get it back on track if you get off track.

Gratitude.

Gratitude has a huge impact on our quality of life and now there’s physiological evidence to back it up.

There’s a new science field called the science of positive attitudes, and lots of research has been done in many reputable institutions like the Institute of HeartMath, University of Miami and the University of California-Davis to name just a few. Here’s what they found.

People who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:

  • Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More joy, optimism, and happiness
  • Acting with more generosity and compassion
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated
  • Improved hormonal balance and an increase in production of DHEA, the “anti-aging hormone”
  • Repetitive gratitude builds like compound interest

In other words, an attitude of gratitude is good for you.

Shocking, right? You probably figured that out before the tons of cash invested in research came to that conclusion, right? But hey, it’s good to have some scholarly cred.

What if you want to be more grateful, but don’t feel like it, don’t know how, or feel stuck in a negative spiral? How do you get there?

Practice these two steps:

  • 1. Adjust your “expectations” bar. Daily.

Most of us have lots, and expect lots more. We’ve grown accustomed to thinking we should have the next phone or device upgrade when it comes out, the really nice car (to replace our two year old car), and should live in one of those houses.  It’s way too easy to set your bar way too high if you are privileged to live in affluence. You may think I’m not talking about you, and yes, yes I am. I’m talking about me too. If you need some help grasping my point, I suggest you do an image search for “living in the third world.”

Ask God to help you realize what you have that 90% (or more!) of folks on the planet do not have. Every change starts with awareness.

  • 2. Do a 30 second Gratitude Inventory. Daily.

It goes like this, “Take 30 seconds to think of as many things as you can think of in that short span. Go.” Use visual cues around you to help you get in touch with what you have, and don’t overlook the small stuff. Like blankets, clothes to choose from, mirrors, carpet, rugs, doors, pictures… For a real impact, write your gratitude list and put it somewhere you’ll have to touch it again before going to bed. Maybe it’s the bathroom sink counter top, or your pillow, or on your phone charger.

So there you have it. A simple, two step plan to increase your attitude of gratitude, one you can do every day, no matter what your schedule holds or where you are. Your outlook on your life and your future will change, for the better.

Choose to make Thanksgiving more than a holiday; make it a way of life.

I’ve known for a long time that my theology supported the truth that an attitude of gratitude is good for each one of us. It’s nice to see science has gotten on board too.

Greg Griffin is a Pastoral Counselor in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.

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