Vail Relationships column: A New Year’s prescription: Choose to be grateful
Want something inspiring and possibly life-transformative to do for the new year? Try putting more effort into being grateful.
There are many experiences, emotions and events that have happened to you that no doubt you are not grateful for. If you don’t have enough money to make ends meet, if you lose a loved one or have to put a beloved pet down, if you have enduring marital difficulties or have an anemic sex life, then you are not likely to feel grateful for such things.
But if you focus your attention toward all the bad things in your life, then you will feel lousy. Only when you focus your attentions on what is good will you feel better. So try this exercise — it will help you to feel better.
Create an Experience List
Create as extensive a list as you can about the experiences, the people and the events that you are grateful for over this past year. What happened to you that you are thankful for? Whom did you meet? What have you accomplished or experienced? Who have you influenced? Where have you used your skills and talents? What have you done that you are proud of?
And what have you done to have fun? When have you been romantic? How do you creatively express yourself? When were you open to people or experiences that were foreign or new? How have you utilized your originality and your ingenuity? When have you been courageous or brave? To whom have you exhibited kindness, generosity or empathy? How do you display integrity or honesty? When have you persevered through challenges or adversity?
How do you take care of you?
What aspects of your life bring you the greatest sense of happiness or well-being? Which parts of your life do you find most rewarding? Whom have you loved well — and whom have you allowed yourself tobe loved by? What activities have offered you the greatest opportunity for personal growth or self-betterment? How have you been resilient? How have you taken care of your health, body and diet? When have you exercised good self-control?
Set Goals for 2016
Finally, what do you want to accomplish or experience this next year? What does the new year offer that you’re looking forward to? How can you commit yourself to better love and be loved this next year? How about taking time to play and have fun or to travel?
Practice Gratitude Daily
One way to express gratitude on a daily basis is to write down what you are thankful for that day. Another way is to do what I do. When my head hits the pillow at night, but before I fall asleep, I recount all the things I am proud of that I did that day or all the things I am grateful for that happened to me. Today, I will include you for reading this article.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His column is in its 24th year of publication and is syndicated around the world. You can reach him at 303-758-8777, or email him through his website at http://www.heartrelationships.com. The second edition of his book, “Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship,” recently hit the No. 1 best-seller list on Amazon.
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