Two weeks ago, we began our focus on Choosing Happiness. Last week we started our series by teaching you a simple and powerful way to Notice Your Life. Thank you for your thoughts and comments on this series. Supporting you in creating success in your world is our passion and hearing that we have hit the mark is truly inspiring.
This week we want to talk about Gratitude and Forgiveness, two important keys to happiness. We will start with Gratitude because it’s often an easier practice than the practice of Forgiveness.
Practicing gratitude is a core strategy for choosing happiness. We’re not just talking about saying thank you for a gift or helping hand.
Gratitude is being present to the moments in your life: to the wonder and awe of a beautiful sunset, appreciation for others, the poignancy of the sparkle in a child’s eye, the puppy that ran up to you on the street, or the barista who made you laugh when you bought your coffee.
It’s an opportunity to be present in your moments—even in the face of challenges and sorrow.
Here are three things you can start today to help you in your practice of gratitude:
- Reflect on what you’re grateful for.Pick 2 to 4 times throughout your day to pause and consider what you’re grateful for.
- Keep a gratitude journal. This can be as simple as listing what you were grateful for in the last week to something you write about each evening, but the process of writing it down anchors it in your brain as well as documenting it so you can see the riches of your life.
- Identify people you’re grateful to or grateful for and express your gratitude to them directly. Consider doing this once a month so that you’re always looking for those experiences with others that bring you joy.
Often, as you practice gratitude, you become more open to the idea of forgiving those people who have hurt or wronged you. But before you do, it’s important to understand what forgiveness is and what it isn’t.
Forgiveness isn’t about forgetting, or reconciliation, or even reconnecting with the person you are forgiving.
In fact, forgiveness is actually not about the other person at all, but rather it’s about your heart. When you haven’t forgiven someone, you feel anger, resentment, vengefulness, and hurt; and those feelings are not good for you—emotionally or physically.
Forgiveness is the practice of letting go of the pain, moving forward, learning from the experience, and being gentle with yourself about your injuries.
Here are three things that can help you practice forgiveness—and it is just that, a practice:
- Write a letter to the person who hurt you. But, don’t hit send.List the ways you were wronged and the many ways that those wrongs have affected you. Tell them what you wished they had done. Tell them how it has continued to impact you. And end it by writing that you’re forgiving them and why it’s good for you and your heart to do so. This letter is for you, not for them, so there’s no need to send it.
- Interrupt your recurring replay of the hurt. This can be quite a challenge until you realize that replaying the hurt only wounds you over and over again. There is a quote from Nelson Mandela who’d spent the majority of his life in prison: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” We want to support you in letting yourself and your heart out of prison.
- Reflect on times you’ve been forgiven. We have all hurt others at some time in our lives and it can be a powerful lesson to reflect on times you’ve been forgiven and what that has meant to you.
We know that practicing gratitude can be challenging when life is hard and practicing forgiveness can seem ridiculous when you’ve been wounded, but you matter and practicing both are good for your happiness.
Let us know how you’re doing… your journey matters to us!
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting