a young boy standing with his arms raised in victory
Image by rtarburt from Pixabay

If you are feeling a bit "dry”, there is a chance you're taking things in life for granted -- health, friends, family, wealth, or life itself. This results in a tendency to shut yourself and others off from the love and joy born of relationships. You're likely focusing on what’s missing. In the process, you're robbing your heart of meaningful connections and the ability to enjoy all that you have been given.

Being unappreciative in general and focusing on the half empty is a core attitude that Attitude Reconstruction associates with the emotion of anger. These qualities block our ability to experience the emotion of love. It’s time to reverse your old tendency. The good news is that there are ways to rekindle the warmth in your heart. Research has shown the benefit of regularly expressing gratitude.

The Power of Gratitude

Here are a few tips to feel better and feed your heart on a daily basis.

* Pay attention to good fortune, and you'll realize you're fortunate in every moment.

* Verbalize your gratitude, acknowledging the magnificence of what life presents.

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* Count your blessings whenever you're unhappy, flat, or dry – anytime.

* In difficult or mundane situations, with friends or strangers, ask yourself, "What is the gift here? What are the benefits of having things turn out like this?"

* Reframe unplanned inconveniences by recognizing even situations like missing a train connection can offer gifts such as having a couple of hours to yourself.

* As a daily exercise, write, think of, or verbalize one to five things you're grateful for. For example, "I’m grateful for my good health." "I'm grateful for my friends and family." "I'm grateful for this meal."

* Remember your list throughout the day and in doing so, experience the positive feelings that are created.

* Say "thank you" often as giving thanks expresses recognition of life's bountiful offerings. Don't forget to say "Thank you for your help."

*  Repeat, the more often the better, expressions such as:

Thank you!

I am fortunate.

I am blessed.

If It’s Difficult for You to Feel Grateful

When it’s difficult to feel grateful, I have two suggestions. First, fake it until you make it. There must be some little blessings in your life. Focus on them for starters. It will get easier over time. Be grateful for what you have, such as a roof over your head, food when you're hungry, family (even if they are difficult), a job (even if it's not enough to cover all your expenses), good health (even if it’s not perfect), a sound mind, etc.

The second recommendation is to make sure you are emotionally processing all the hurts, losses, injustices, violations, and threats to your survival. That means have that good cry to acknowledge the sadness, yell, or stomp to let out the anger, and shiver and shake to move out the fear. Your emotions are what is between you and your gratitude.

Gratitude through Gift Giving

You can make any day truly memorable through giving a gift to show your gratitude for others. Gratitude in the form of good gift giving takes some forethought.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Write a card, reflect on something you appreciate about a friend or enemy.

2. Make a list of people in your life that you want to acknowledge. Then one at a time put yourself in their shoes and decide what would be meaningful for him or her. Then turn your thought into concrete action.

3. Ask yourself "How can I make an impact in a positive way?" Maybe find a cause to volunteer to help, such as visiting a hospital, serving dinner at a shelter, or collecting toys for those less fortunate. Volunteering is an easy way to put your concerns about your life on the back burner and get perspective about the larger picture and the joy of life.

4. Consider giving something homemade like they did in the "old days." Bake something, write a poem, make a video, put together some photos, give gift certificates for future outings or chores you'll do, or get crafty and make something.

5. Give gratitudes, or kind words about how you feel about your relationship, or your recipient’s actions, attitudes, or personality.

How to Receive Appreciations

Giving appreciations is half of the equation. The other part is receiving what's offered. We cringe, deflect, discount, and don't let it in because early messages or beliefs have convinced us that we are not worthy. When someone offers thanks or appreciations, we resist because we've been told it's selfish or self-centered to toot our own horn.

The bottom line is we don't accept the gesture of love that is being offered.

Being able to fully accept appreciations, thanks, and gratitude is a major step in reclaiming your self-esteem. You can do that by silencing your inner and outer voice when someone lays one on you, and take in the gift you've just been given. At first, it might not feel easy. 

Shake your head up and down, say "yes" and after a generous pause, say either "thank you" or "will you please tell me that again because I'm working on accepting appreciations." 

The Benefits of Offering (and Receiving) Gratitudes and Appreciations

If you follow these simple suggestions, you'll feel more waves of love. You'll experience the sweet feeling of gratitude for all things, great and small, and recognize life is full of blessings in every moment. You'll be able to give to others without expecting anything in return and feel more connected to life.

You might even realize that it's a gift to be alive, regardless of your struggles or challenges. You'll smile more often because your heart will be lighter. In short, you'll feel blessed no matter your circumstance. 

May I suggest that you contact your mother, father, or someone you are having difficulty with, and voice what you are grateful for. It will put a heartwarming spin on your day. The idea is to stay present so you bask in the spirit of your gesture. Focus on the activity of the moment, open your heart, and enjoy the love.

©2023 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.

Book by this Author:

Attitude Reconstruction

Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.

book cover: Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life  by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.With practical tools and real-life examples, this book can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with joy, love, and peace. Jude Bijou's comprehensive blueprint will teach you to: • cope with family members' unsolicited advice, cure indecision with your intuition, deal with fear by expressing it physically, create closeness by truly talking and listening, improve your social life, increase staff morale in just five minutes a day, handle sarcasm by visualizing it flying by, carve out more time for yourself by clarifying your priorities, ask for a raise and get it, stop fighting via two easy steps, cure kids' tantrums constructively. You can integrate Attitude Reconstruction into your daily routine, regardless of your spiritual path, cultural background, age, or education.

For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

photo of: Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT)

Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life.

In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education.

Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/