Finding Peace through Gratitude

Have you ever considered taking a break from social media because you’re tired of seeing posts where people are complaining about things in their day-to-day life?  Most of us are guilty of telling and re-telling the stories about the hassles and frustrations that life presents us on a regular basis.  We feel satisfaction when people show us compassion for our circumstances and share stories about their similar experiences.  But, is it worth the costs?   

After a long history of repeating stories about stressful events, I started to notice how I felt while I told the stories.  I was reliving the frustration, anger, sadness, et cetera that I experienced when the event happened.  The situation sucked enough the first time.  Why did I want to relive it over and over again?  We often share stories about our daily challenges because we want validation and reassurance from others. 

Photo by AntonioGuillem/iStock / Getty Images

I decided that the reassurance that I could receive from others wasn’t worth the negativity that I was re-experiencing.  I was capable of validating myself.  Instead, I started to focus on sharing stories about more positive events.  It’s not that I never shared about my challenges, but I chose to do so when I needed information or guidance from someone.  By changing my focus, my feelings changed too.  It was easier to be joyful because I was paying attention to the good things in my life.

At the same time I was shifting my focus, I was also learning to be more compassionate with myself, which required adjusting my expectations.  I felt chronically disappointed in life when it proved to be unfair and unpredictable.  Once I realized that life was not going to conform to my expectations, I was able to accept it for what it is.  Acceptance makes it much easier to experience gratitude. 

It is realistic to expect that life will present us with challenges at unexpected and often inopportune moments.  If that is what you expect to happen, you feel much less disappointed and frustrated when it does happens.  When life is running smoothly, it feels like a blessing rather than something to which you are entitled.   

Photo by marekuliasz/iStock / Getty Images

It is difficult to shift our whole perspective of life in one fell swoop.  It is much easier to make smaller, concrete steps.  Writing in a gratitude journal is one, specific way to practice making a change in your perspective.  This video describes how you can start a gratitude journal today.   

Gratitude and its relationship to happiness are hot topics.  You can read more about research on gratitude here.  I try to practice gratitude throughout the day by giving people feedback to express my appreciation for them.  I also try to take in little moments of joy and beauty when I notice them.  More formally, I have downloaded an app on my phone, which I use to journal about five things for which I am grateful each day.  By replacing your daily complaints with a gratitude practice each day, you are building a new habit.  With time and practice, your perspective can become more joyous and peaceful. 

I am grateful for your time and attention to this post. I hope that you have fun with your gratitude practice and share your experiences here.

Wishing you peace and love,

Suzanne Meunier