Allow Gratitude to Transform Your Life

by Jonathan

Gratitude can transform your life

We all know that being grateful and appreciative is very beneficial, but have you ever noticed that it’s often easier said than done?

In the face of a sinking economy and mounting demands on your time, do you find it difficult to remain grateful and appreciative? When you feel stressed out and overwhelmed, can you still find reasons to be grateful?

Sometimes finding the good in a trying situation can by pretty challenging. Yet, the benefits of maintaining genuine gratitude and appreciation in spite of what’s going on around us, are certainly worth looking into.

This is where focus comes to the rescue. You can actually transform your life by training  yourself to search for, discover, and focus on legitimate reasons to feel grateful and appreciative.

Learning to count your blessings

We all have blessings in our life! No matter where we are, and regardless of what we might be going through, there are always things we can be grateful for. The challenge is to train ourselves to focus on gratitude, and to intuitively search for reasons to manifest appreciation.

This may, or may not be your natural tendency, but with practice, all of us can certainly develop a predominate attitude of gratitude backed up with true expressions of appreciation.

Do you know people like this?

Do you know someone who never has a bad word to say about anyone or anything? Someone who just naturally sees the silver lining, even around the darkest cloud? How do you feel when you are in the company of that person? Don’t you feel refreshed and positive?

What about the other end of the spectrum? Do you know someone who always needs to point out the negative aspect of every situation? How does that make you feel? Nobody feels empowered around someone like that, especially since negative attitudes can infect those who are exposed to them regularly.

Pick your friends and associates wisely

When trying to cultivate a greater sense of gratitude in your life, you should seek out those whose dominant tendency is positive and upbuilding. It’s also a good idea to avoid spending too much time with those who like to dwell on the negative. Choosing your associates wisely can really help us to cultivate a much greater degree of  gratitude and appreciation.

Once we’ve taken steps to surround ourselves with a more positive group of people, what should we do next?

Train yourself to notice the good

Now, It’s time to develop a new habit. The habit of finding something to appreciate about every person, situation, or experience you encounter.

Admittedly, this can be difficult sometimes. You might try turning it into a game of sorts. Even if the situation you are in seems to be 99% negative, could you challenge yourself to locate that 1% that is worthy of your appreciation? Once found, could you focus on it?

I know several people who just love to pan for gold. Funny thing is, most of the time their gold pans are filled with rubble. This doesn’t seem to bother them, do you know why? It’s because that’s not where their focus is. They are so intent on finding something that sparkles that they don’t even notice the piles of worthless sand and gravel. There focus is on searching for that tiny, little, fragment of gold and their mind filters out everything else.

How do they react when they finally discover a little fleck of gold? They usually don’t say, “I had to work way too hard to find that little piece of gold.” Instead they get really excited, their focus intensifies, and their gratitude and appreciation skyrocket. Could you apply that same approach in the daily activities of your life?

Choose the direction of your focus

Seems that an overly sensationalized news media has managed to influence popular opinion toward fear and negativity. How much has your perception been influenced by this constant bombardment of negative news?

It can be very difficult to resist adopting a negative viewpoint when you are surrounded by it. To maintain a more grateful and appreciative perspective, we need to break away from the mentality of the masses and learn to think for ourselves. We need to make a conscious effort to filter the information we are exposed to. That means we need to find ways of limiting our exposure to negative input. We also need to be willing to take action to actively move away from sources that influence us in a negative way.

7 Ways to protect and cultivate your feelings of gratitude

1) Don’t get pulled in to negative talk. When a conversation you’re in starts to go negative, don’t be afraid to be the one who changes the subject. If that doesn’t work be willing to excuse yourself.

2) Help others turn away from negativity. If someone you know persists in talking about negative things all the time, find a tactful way to tell them that you really don’t appreciate it. They may not even realize that they’re doing it, and you could be doing them a huge favor.

3) Show gratitude. Willingly express gratitude and appreciation for those around you. Tell them specifically what you appreciate and why. Then you can feel grateful that you were able to shine a little sunshine into their life.

4) See the big picture. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, look for the beneficial aspects created by that situation. Ask yourself: “What have I learned here that will benefit me in the future? When I look back on this experience a year from now, what will I be grateful for?”

5) Control your response. If someone criticizes you don’t get defensive. Respond by saying something like: “Thank you for bringing that to my attention, I’ll give it some careful consideration.” You can be grateful that you didn’t allow them to push your buttons, and who knows, maybe their point was valid and your life will be better for considering it.

6) Look for reasons to say thank you. When other people sense that you appreciate them it changes the dynamic of your relationship with them. Everyone loves to be appreciated. They’ll be more inclined to do nice things for you because you appreciate their efforts. In turn, you’ll have even more reasons to feel gratitude.

7) Have a gratitude review. Do this as soon as you wake up in the morning and before you go to sleep at night. Remember to count your blessings daily. Think of all the things you have to be grateful for in your life. If you start and end each day with gratitude your whole life will shift in a more positive direction. It only takes a minute or two to allow gratitude fill your heart and mind.

Why am I overflowing with gratitude?

Because of you, that’s why! You graciously use some of your valuable time to visit this blog and show your support. You leave wonderful comments that raise the level of conversation and provide deep insight. You unselfishly share your positive energy, experiences, encouragement, and feedback.

I want to use this opportunity to say THANK YOU for making Advanced Life Skills the success that it is today. Please believe me when I say that your being here is never taken for granted. I am truly grateful for each and every one of you!

What are you grateful for?

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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan

Hello Jonathan….I want to thank you for your valuable and honest advice concerning gratitude. It really is challenging to find people out there who are genuinely grateful for life, as a result of honing in on the positive(s) of others. The beauty is, the attitude of this uplifted person is so contagious, that you see a chance to learn from and hopefully be able to genuinely mimic that person at least with regard to the gold they constantly discover amongst the pile of garbage.

It truly is challenging to find people out there, but I have begun to notice that people truly respond quite positively when you are genuinely grateful for their help. Bringing that genuinely constant gratitude to every situation can be a challenge, as some people are miserable and don’t want to hear it, but if proposed in the right context, you can actually be that ray of sunshine in someones life, and therefore provide them a reason to feel alive amongst all the negativity in the world.

Thanks again Jonathan for your insight, and I truly appreciate it to know others are out there thinking along similar lines as I.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey Dan, welcome to Advanced Life Skills. Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate your input.

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Frank Jovine

Jonathan,

It is easy to say something, but really showing your genuine side tells who you are and that is something that takes practice and commitment.

Great article!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey Frank, that is so true, thanks for that insightful statement.

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Lance

Jonathan,
Thank you, my friend, for sharing as freely as you do. Your wisdom shines through on these pages…and it’s an honor to read your words.

Gratitude is something that might seem so small, and yet makes such a big, big difference. And the thing is – it’s freely available to all of us. I think it’s in raising our level of consciousness to what is going on around us – and then being aware of this, and sharing that gratitude in those moments….

As always, it’s great to be here…

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Lance, I totally agree that “raising our level of consciousness to what is going on around us” alerts us to the many opportunities for showing gratitude and appreciation. Thanks for your kind words Lance, they really mean so much.

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Dorlee

Hi Jonathan,

I really enjoyed reading this post.

You found such a beautiful way of expressing the importance of showing one’s gratitude, gratitude’s “bonus” in that it ultimately helps you enjoy your life much more than you were before, as well as how to get to that place where you are allowing “gratitude to transform your life.”

Best,
Dorlee

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Dorlee, I am so glad you decided to leave a comment. I think gratitude comes with lots of bonuses and helping us enjoy life more is right up there at the top of the list.

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Gail @ A Flourishing Life

Hi Jonathan,
Thanks so much for this post on such an essential topic. Your discussion here is very thorough and addresses so many ways to trigger us to open to gratitude in our lives.

I especially like your reminder to choose friends and associates wisely. Sometimes certain people just don’t feel good to be around. They are negative or energy drains or reinforce limitation in some way. To set about cultivating gratitude might mean putting some healthy boundaries in place, even if this is an unpopular move.

If we really want our lives to shine, we need to be wholly focused on what we want and not be deterred in our intention. This is the fire that makes true transformation possible.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Greetings Gail, people often talk about peer pressure in a negative way. In reality, positive peer pressure can be a powerful force for good. The beauty of it is, to a large degree we get to choose whose influence we allow into our life.

I think the bottom of your comment got chopped off somehow. Not sure what happened, but thank you so much for interacting.

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Steven Aitchison

A huge thank you to yourself Jonathan, for this article, which is spot on. Like Lance said, it seems such a small thing but the return on Investment is huge.

I am totally blessed with a great family, health, mental capacity and great online friends such as yourself.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey Steve, I know you to be a very grateful and appreciative person. I really appreciate your influence on me and everyone who knows you. Thank you my friend.

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Ching Ya

What a positive message, Jonathan. Few days back I was reading a story with the similar message, saying how one is always easy to notice the bad over good. That’s our nature. You’re right, we need to ‘train’ ourselves to see the goodness out of every circumstances. No easy task, it’s a life-long leaning process.

@wchingya
Social/Blogging Tracker

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Ching Ya, it does seem that we are wired to give more focus to the negative things. I think it’s related to the survival instinct somehow. Isn’t it nice that we can actually rewire ourselves see the positive? Sure, we need to work on it, but that’s a nice thing to be working on I think.

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Kate

Hello,
Thanks for an inspiring article. I really like the analogy about panning for gold, it is so true, when we feel there is very little to be grateful for, we need to look really hard for even the tiniest thing.
At times I have been in a slump and lost all positivity, I start with the smallest of things. I can see, breathe, walk, I have food, water, a job and friends and family, wow I am a very very lucky girl! We all have something to appreciate and when we start to see them, we see more and more!
Best wishes,
Kate.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Kate, that’s a really good example of the process, thanks for laying it out for us. We can all benefit by following your example during those challenging times.

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Carly

Hi Jonathan
Just a quick thank you for such a positive article….. i have just found your site and find it very refreshing from all the negativity of the world news going on around us. i particularly like point number 6….. my best friend in the world constantly tells me how much she appreciates me and it completely changes me and the way i see things…… the world would be a better place if more people took on these principles…… thanks for the blog

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Carly, positive and encouraging friends are a wonderful blessing. So glad you found us, thanks for joining the conversation.

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Nea

I love the example you used about people who pan for gold. When we apply that same approach of focusing on the gold, not the rubble, life seems so much brighter. Great post!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Nea, I know you to be a very positive and appreciative person and I am grateful for your friendship and your input. Thank you!

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J.D. Meier

I like your point blank recommendation to train yourself to notice the good. I think gratitude is very much a skill that can become a life-long. habit.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey J.D., thanks for seeing the practical “skill” side of gratitude. That’s primarily how I look at personal development, as a skill set (hence the name Advanced Life Skills). It makes me feel really good when someone locks in on that aspect of personal growth. Skills are great because anyone can learn them, but they only have value if we put them to use. Thank you my friend.

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Donna

Sometimes it’s hard to remove those negative people from your life. That’s what my current issue is. I’ll keep reflecting on how to change that.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Donna, that’s a very common challenge. Sometimes our circumstances, family ties, or jobs regularly expose us to those negative people. Here are a few ways to counteract that exposure.

1) Find some really positive people to include in your life. This will help offset the the negative ones. As time goes by, try to maximize you positive relationships while simultaneously minimizing the negative ones.

2) Don’t allow yourself to get pulled into negative conversations. Some people use negative talk as a way of getting attention. If you interact with them when they are being positive, but ignore them when they turn negative it will subconsciously influence their behavior.

3) Never underestimate the power of tactful honesty. Find a way to help them see that their negative attitude is pushing you away. You can reassure them that you value them as a friend, but don’t appreciate it when they are negative. If they listen, great. If they get offended and start ignoring you, great. You win either way.

Life is too short and much too precious to waste time with people who bring you down. Don’t be afraid to protect the quality of your life experience. You don’t owe negative people anything.

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Donna

I’ve done some of what you’ve suggested. I’ve limited phone calls, visits, etc. regarding family members or friends. And in some instances have been able to point out their negativity. This has made a better change for these relationships in the past year!

The work issue is my hardest issue. Especially since it’s the owner that is so negative. Most of the time I can get by, I limit my interactions to email, I limit my time (i’m part-time), draw my bounderies. I find the good positive reasons why I’m there, I leave work at work, and balance a happier home life. All good. Just sometimes it can really way you down especially when the negativity becomes rude and in form of an attack. I have to practice your suggestion in #2. And probably start considering it’s time to move on. It’s just too bad the job itself so works for flexibility for my family life. Thank you for your suggestions.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Donna, you are in a situation that many people wrestle with, especially in a a rough economical climate where jobs can be difficult to come by. There is no justification for rudeness and I’m sorry you are being exposed to it.

One thing you might consider is to try to view your bosses behavior in a different light. This can be especially challenging when it’s being directed at you, but if you could see him as frustrated and scared it might make things seem less personal.

The way I frame this is: If we go to a facility for insane people, we don’t take offense at their behavior, even if it’s directed at us. Why? Because we know it is them, not us. Try seeing your boss the same way and see if that helps.

Another classic approach is to visualize him as an irate little cartoon character with a high squeaky voice who nobody takes seriously. If you do this right it will be hard not to laugh we he starts going off.

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Farnoosh

What a fantastic post. I know one of each set of those people mentioned – the one with the superfluous supply of negative thoughts brought down my moods and made me feel helpless in my (work) environment, and the positive ones, despite all the ups and mostly downs in their life, shine like a light, and all I remember from them is the harmony and joy I feel from being around them. This topic cannot be overemphasized. Thank you for the reminder. I am more than grateful on this birthday for having found my childhood friends, which makes me feel complete, and feeling richer yet by the newer friends and more family and thankfully my health. What else matters really? I think I focused on the less important stuff long enough. Time for a new attitude, namely this one. Thanks Jonathan!!!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Farnoosh, bravo! You said it perfectly.

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Phil - Less Ordinary Living

Jonathan -

Thank you for a great post. I’m grateful for the inspiration you provide. I think that life is such a precious gift that we should be grateful for every moment of it. If you live on that basis, everything is a miracle and gratitude starts to flow. I think you are right that with practice we can learn to show gratitude in every situation and find that silver lining.

Phil

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey Phil, well said my friend. I am equally encouraged by you. Thanks so much for your support.

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Sandra Lee

Jonathan, You’ve used the word ‘train’ several times in this article and I think it speaks to such an important fundamental truth: our mind is indeed pliable, trainable, and workable. I notice that #5 controlling my reaction is the most challenging for me, which is a wonderful opportunity for improvement! I’m grateful to have this resource. Thanks for this great list!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hello Sandra Lee, I hadn’t noticed myself using ‘train’ but it’s pretty indicative of my whole approach. How blessed we are to have minds that are incredibly powerful and trainable at the same time.

In a strange way, much of what I call training is really unlearning and letting go. We have been trained by so many influences to believe that we are much more limited than is really true. So we need a specialized skill set to regain the personal power, happiness, and flow that is so much a part of our nature.

#5 is tricky when we are running low on resources, or get caught off balance. At times like that we often get reminded that we are all still a work in progress. That’s okay, personal development by definition is an ongoing process.

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DaveUrsillo

Jonathan,

So right! Gratitude is so powerful. Reflecting upon one’s thankfulness in life also has the effect of nurturing a natural “want” to help others realize their thankfulness, and indeed to GIVE them more to be thankful for.

In fact, this simple strategy is one of the cornerstones for my aspiring book called “The Quiet Leader”!

Best,
Dave

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Dave, gratitude makes a good cornerstone for a book and a life. It is such a powerful concept, and as you said it expands to reach out to and influence those around us.

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Richard

Gratitude is a beautiful thing because people who have it can enjoy life no matter the external circumstances. Many millionaires don’t have this luxury.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey Richard, funny you should mention the lack of gratitude among some who have a material abundance. I have worked with many people in that exact position. Once again we are reminded that money only solves (or reframes) financial problems. Gratitude on the other hand, will change our overall perspective of life.

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Walter

Being grateful, especially in the face of adversity is indeed no easy task. When we’re faced with dark situations, we immediately forget the blessings in our life. To tell you the truth, I find it hard to be grateful when I’m surrounded by people, things and events that are not conducive to such attitude. Still, I’m doing my best to see the bigger picture.

Perhaps we can be more grateful if we experience some of life’s difficulties. :-)

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey Walter, certainly, it is more challenging “to be grateful when surrounded by people, things and events that are not conducive to such attitude. That’s why we need to cultivate this attitude so that it becomes deeply ingrained in our own identity. When gratitude becomes “what and who we are” it is no longer a struggle.

Sound to me like you are doing a really good job in this area. Like any other advanced life skill, developing deeply ingrained gratitude is a process that takes time and effort. Keep up the good work my friend.

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Dana

Jonathan,

I wanted to thank you for your articles, especially for this one. I’ve just recently stumbled upon your blog and I’ve already read through quite a few posts. I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts and insights, they are helping me to gain a more positive attitude and a sense of peace in my life. :) I’m sharing this with my friends, too!

Best,
Dana

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Greetings Dana, and welcome to Advanced Life Skills. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment and for your kind words. I truly appreciate it.

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Stephen Mills

Hi Jonathan, great stuff as usual! I’m a little behind getting around everywhere so I need to go back and read a couple of your recent articles. :-(

I do have a question about this:

“7) Have a gratitude review.”

You say do this every day. I think, but I’m not sure, that I have read that research shows if you have one big gratitude day a week, rather than a little everyday it actually does more for you. What do you know about that? I really don’t know where I ran across that, but for some reason it came to mind when I read your #7 suggestion.

I must say your last couple of paragraphs on why you are overflowing with gratitude was very touching. It’s so true and I feel the same way. It even brought a little tear to my eye :-)

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Stephen, I really don’t know which gratitude technique works best. The reason I do it AM & PM is so that it is a consistent part of my thoughts. Personally, I find the constant reminders help keep me focused on the positive side.

The whole post would have seemed too academic without the concluding acknowledgments. It’s the readers and those who leave comments that make this a community. Otherwise, it would just be one crazy guy spouting off. I am touched that you were touched. Thanks for sharing that.

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Lalitha

Thanks Jonathan. Wonderful article. Thanks Stephen for tweeting this article.
What are you grateful for?
I am grateful for everything I have and WILL receive. We are so blessed for the internet, be able to connect and read such empowering information.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Lalitha, thank you for you kind words and for taking the time to express yourself. I really appreciate it.

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Steve Borgman

Jonathan, I heard something interesting recently about unforgiveness. When we harbor resentments toward people who have injured us (whether they are aware of it or not), it turns into bitterness inside of us. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get hurt. And it blocks our ability to be grateful. So…if any of us is in that situation, it will be most helpful to us to work through our issues with unforgiveness so that we can move on with our lives and be grateful.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey Steve, that is a great description of resentment: “like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get hurt.” That is EXACTLY what it’s like. Thanks for sharing that my friend. I will remember that one.

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Eri

I will second the statement that life is far too precious to waste on ingratitude. I will also point out how truly the statement on ‘drinking poison expecting someone else to hurt’ (paraphrase) rings! How often is bitterness our motivation when calm thankfulness ought to be? I say this coming from a life of almost constant strife/misfortune–realizing we all go to these dark places does put what little justices do exist for us and how little we owe our negative selves or counterparts into perspective.

Great article!!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Thanks Eri, appreciate your input.

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hughbelle

hi Jonathan, I really love this post. This is really true. The people who surround us either give us positive view in life or negative so we must choose who our friends are. Also I like your view about “train yourself to notice the good”. This is the same thought I read in the book “Who moved my cheese?” The idea is people feel good if they are noticed or they get praise for their good deeds instead of looking for their mistakes. So we have a choice, we can make people feel good or bad and for me, its good that we can make people feel good. :)

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Hughbelle, making others feel good always makes us feel good in return. It’s the more happiness in giving thing which is too often overlooked.

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vgoller

Just to words ¨thank you¨. Your posts are helping me to be a better me.

Love & Hugs

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi vgollor, excellent! Knowing that means a lot.

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Chris

How often do the simple words “Thank You” go missing in the haste of modern life. I know how unreasonably pleased I am when someone bothers to say it and try my best never to let an opportunity pass to thank those who have helped me.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Chris, it is too bad that common curtesy has become pretty uncommon these days because it’s one of the things that really has a positive influence on human interaction.

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Karen

I couldn’t agree more! The most helpful tip that I needed to hear is to not be pulled into negative talk with other people. That quickly changes my outlook from positive to negative… great post

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Karen, pulled in is certainly the right word. For some reason those negative conversations have a way of doing exactly that. It takes a little effort to avoid them, but it is well worth it.

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Maris

I can really see here the intense power of Gratitude!
I am so blessed with so many things in life that keeps me strong so I am grateful for that!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Maris, gratitude truly is one of the most powerful personal growth tools we have in our emotional tool kit. The more thatnful we are, the more we will find to be thankful for.

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Ken Wert@MeanttobeHappy

Powerful, Jonathan! Gratitude truly does change the way we perceive the world, ourselves and life in general. I love that you emphasized the ability we have to actually train ourselves to be grateful, to find that 1% that’s truly worthy of gratitude even if it’s buried in the stink of the 99% of a painful situation.

Loved this post, Jonathan. I’m even grateful for it! ;)

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey Ken, great to hear from you. I know you are a person who makes gratitude a regular part of your day – and it shows! Thanks for sharing your positive energy with us.

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Sandra / Always Well Within

Jonathan,

I truly love the idea of a daily gratitude review. I was amazed to discover that a regular attitude of gratitude can even reduce one’s physical symptoms. Now, that’s powerful. But as you say, it requires training…but that training can be fun.

I’m grateful for all the uplifting blogs like yours. I’m grateful for the birds singing outside my window. I’m grateful that I only skinned my knee yesterday, didn’t break a leg! Hugs to you!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

That’s the spirit Sandra! With that perspective life takes on a whole new glow. In fact, the things you mentioned immediately put a smile on my face, and I am truly grateful for that – thank you!

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Kang Zuo

I think I am suffering from depression and anxiety, it makes me feel better after reading your articles. I realized I need to change my thinking pattern and focus on the positive side. I will keep working on it. This website and blog is so helpful. Thank you!

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