Finding Gratitude During This Busy Holiday Season

Finding Gratitude During This Busy Holiday Season

Rick Petronella Newsletter
Rick J. Petronella, PhD
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November 2017
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Finding Gratitude During This Busy Holiday Season

Living life as we know it, chances are, we focus on all the misery in our lives—the things that life has inflicted on us, and the things that we has inflicted on ourselves. But now we able to choose, we can change our thinking patterns if we want to change our view of life.

How do we find Gratitude around us?

The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius famously said that our lives are what our thoughts make them. In other words, by simply changing the way we think and our focus, we can change our lives. Bearing this in mind, choosing gratitude can have a huge impact in our lives.

When we tend to only see the things that have not worked out the way we may have wanted, chances are we are focusing on only the negativity—the things that life had inflicted on us, and the things that we had inflicted on ourselves. It is at times such as those that we might want to write a gratitude list.

Why write a gratitude list? Because we don’t want to be miserable. And, if being grateful is the solution, then that’s what we should do. And importantly, a grateful heart doesn’t dwell on the negative. I have learned very quickly that the struggle stops when gratitude begins.

In addition, consider what motivator Tony Robbins says about our brains. That they are “question-answering machines.” In other words, whatever question you pose to your brain, it will think and think until it comes up with an appropriate answer.

Take for example, if we ask, “Why is my life so horrible?” Our brains will go to a quick, not always the best answer: “Because I’m a (fill in the blank)!” That could be pretty self-defeating depending on what our “blanks” are…

That’s why it’s important to ask yourself better questions.

So here are three than can make a huge difference in your early recovery and in the day-to-day level of happiness you experience.

Ask yourself three questions:

1. What’s great about my life today?

We sometimes live in the past or the future, either reliving past disasters or awaiting more bad things to come. The Alcoholics Anonymous program tells us that if we have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, we are making a you-know-what of the present. And besides, the reason we call it the present… is because it’s a gift!

So what’s great about your life right now?

• You have a God who loves you and wants the best for you.

• You’re given the opportunity to make the changes you know need to happen to put you at the best possible place in your life. With friends, your children, your spouse. There is still time to approach life beyond your thoughts only.

• The opportunity to do life different.

2. How can I serve others today?

Our co-founder Dr. Bob, in his last speech to an AA gathering, reminded us that our philosophy of life as sober people is to be of love and service, “We all know what love means, and we all know what service means,” Bob told us.

A quote from a Roman philosopher on the back of his AA business card—”God divided man into men that they might help each other.”

Can you visit a sick friend or relative? Can you call someone you have not spoken to for some time? By serving others, we remind ourselves what true love means.

3. Where would I be if I wasn’t able to see the good side of my life?

It’s amazing how quickly we take our life for granted. But ask yourself what your life would be like right now, right at this very minute, if you weren’t looking for the good in someone or even yourself?

Studies show that by deliberately cultivating gratitude, we can increase our sense of self and happiness. And more importantly, a grateful heart doesn’t have room for criticism in our lives or even examining others.

So focus on gratitude and watch your life become happier.

I close with the words of the Apostle Paul…

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, “think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

Featured Article
Top 10 Ways To Have The Best Holidays Ever

The holiday season is upon us. And with it will comes the hope that this one will be truly magical. However, many of us quickly get bogged down in busyness, stress and old patterns. Here are 10 ways to turn that dynamic around and create the magic.

1. Give yourself a break.Perfection—even perfect happiness—just isn’t possible. Let your best be good enough. Make a budget for both your time and your money—and stick to it. It really is the thought that counts.

2. Make conscious decisions. Get clear about what you really want to do over the holidays before compromising with others. If you don’t have a clear plan and clear intentions, you might find yourself getting swept along by others’ desires. Even if you compromise later, get clear first.

3. Shorten your to-do list. What do the holidays mean to you? For many, it’s about family and friends and spirituality. If an item doesn’t add to your holiday spirit, scratch it off.

4. Say no when you want to. It’s very liberating. Try it and see. It sounds simple, but too often obligation trumps desire. When faced with options, choose the one that would make you happier.

5. Limit obligatory activities. If you can’t avoid certain events, limit the time you’re there.

6. Take good care of yourself. The old standards help keep stress at bay: eat healthfully, exercise, drink lots of water, and breathe deeply. Schedule time for relaxation and fun.

7. Start early. To avoid a last-minute frenzy that can bust your budget, start shopping or making presents now.

8. Ask for help.Reject any notion of martyrdom. The burden of preparations should not fall upon one person. The more specific you are in your request, the more successful you’ll be.

9. Establish new traditions. If you have experienced a major life-changing event, such as a death or divorce, consider doing something you’ve never done before over the holidays, such as travel to another country or take a cruise.

10. Get support. If a glorious holiday season feels completely out of reach, you may experience the holiday blues. Many people do. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling that way. Reach out for the support you need.

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Bethany Kinzel MA, LPC has a vast experience working with adolescents as well as young married couples. She also works with families and children going through divorce. Bethany has served in both inpatient as well as out-patient settings. We welcome her to our practice as one of our therapists. 678-395-7922.

Charity Simpson NCC, MS, M.Div. specializes in children, adolescents, and women’s issues. She runs a group for young women on Monday nights from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. It is quite popular. Give her a call. The first appointment is free. 678-395-7922. Charity has been doing a fabulous job. She has just opened up a few more spots and is taking new clients.

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