Why practicing gratitude will change your life

gratitudeEarlier this week I traveled to Jerusalem for the Temech business conference, an event geared specifically to religious women.  The organizer is one of my blog readers and I was delighted to meet her – and other blog readers- there.

I had a fantastic time connecting with so many people!  This was the best thing and worst thing about the conference – too many great people to talk to! – and I missed the last session that I wanted to sit in on because of my shmoozing.  :)

Naturally I heard other women saying how wonderful and empowering it was, and I also heard some grumbles.  It made me think about how quick people are to complain and how slow they are to express their appreciation.

Several weeks ago I completed a repair in my building that was part of a problem for eight years.  I took on the job of building representative in the beginning of August and at that time I hired someone who located the leaks in the building and then took care of getting them fixed. The final part of the repairs was to replace the tiles that had been pulled up in the entranceway of the building before I took over.  These had been left open because they didn’t want to close up the flooring only to have to rip it up again if the pipes there were the cause of the leaks.

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I spent months speaking to all the members of the building until I got a majority of people to sign that they agreed to have the entrance way repaired.  That gave me the legal backing to do the repairs.  But it still meant I had to get everyone to pay, which was very, very difficult.  This was a huge stress for me.

Someone in the building called me when I was in the hospital after I was burned and asked how she could help. I told her I was feeling very pressured that I hadn’t yet collected money from everyone, and the biggest thing she could do for me was to speak to the three people who hadn’t yet paid.  She agreed and I was very grateful for this because it took a huge weight off my head.  The only problem was that these are tough people to deal with. So this woman trying to help was brought to tears when speaking to them because the way they talk is to yell and attack you, and I was left to collect the rest of the money on my own.  (Yes, being yelled at and attacked.  Fun times.)

There were many hours put into getting this done and many, many steps involved in what could have been a very simple repair.  17 months after the floor was left broken open and nine months after I began the process of getting this repair done, I had the entrance flooring completed.  It was such a huge accomplishment that I felt like throwing myself a party.  But I mentally prepared myself to not be thanked, not for the many hours I put into getting it done, nor the end result.  That’s human nature, to comment only when something is wrong.

Good thing.  Not only was there hardly a word of thanks, but the next morning someone yelled up to me through my window – from outside – that the building was disgusting and dirty since the floor hadn’t been mopped after the repair was done!  It couldn’t be mopped after the tiling was done since it had to be left to dry overnight, but it had been thoroughly swept.   After almost a year and a half of daily looking at this eyesore and safety hazard, she couldn’t spend literally one moment to appreciate that it was fixed.

That’s how some people are, no matter what they only see what they don’t have.  Some people actually look for things to be miserable about.  This is the key to having a miserable life!  Look for everything in life that doesn’t line up for what you want and then complain to everyone you see about what a miserable life you are and how much you suffer.  Ignore everything good that happens and take it for granted as your due.

Several weeks ago I received a note from a blog reader expressing her appreciation for what I write.   I’m blessed with a high quality readership and always appreciate when readers take the time to let me know if something I’ve written has been helpful for them.  In this case, she not only wrote but took the extra effort to put a card in the mail to me from overseas!  As nice as it was for me to receive, the person writing it got just as much as I did from the act of writing and sending it.  You know what she got?

She reinforced with her action the kind of person she wants to be and the kind of life she wants to have.  Writing that card made her a more thoughtful, caring and appreciative person, and as a result she’ll have a more fulfilling and happy life.

Expressing gratitude can be hard, since it means acknowledging that someone enhanced your life in some way, which implies that you would have been lacking without it.  Also, sometimes people feel they have to notice what they don’t have because the focus on what they want will bring them more.

It doesn’t work like that.  You don’t become better by bashing yourself for being inadequate and life doesn’t hand you more goodies when you don’t notice the huge platters piled up all around you.

The more you appreciate what you have in your life, the more good will flow in.  Regardless of what you do or don’t have in your life in that moment, focusing on what you have will make you a happier person.  And being a happier person means you have a more fulfilling life.  This happens step by tiny step, every time you pause and practice gratitude in your life.

It’s that simple.

Avivah

(This post is part of the Hearth and Soul hop.)

18 thoughts on “Why practicing gratitude will change your life

  1. I’ve been quietly following your blog for a few years.
    But this post made me comment!
    I think that almost everyone of your posts enhances my life in some way!
    Your blog is such an honest source of inspiration!
    There are so many people out there know trying so hard to inspire people but your openness, honesty and real-ness (new word

    1. Thank you, Rochel, and welcome! I don’t write about things with the goal to inspire people but I’m glad when it does!

      (And if you see this and want to complete your thought, I’d love to hear the rest of it!:))

      1. Oops… Don’t know why that happened…
        What I wanted to say is that your inspire in a genuine way!
        Thank you! I have really learnt so much from you!

  2. Thanks again for all the effort you put into your blog. I can always learn something new from you. Yasher Koach!

  3. this is amazing timing!!
    since we moved two weeks ago and there are some issues with basics which should have been done on our plot (like being connected to electricity normally and not with a cable to our neighbours..) i only have access to Internet through my phone.
    other than having been pretty much weaned from facebook and generally just wasting time browsing with no purpose, it also made me appreciate the sites I do look up on my phone which go up quickly. i was thinking of sending you a mail saying how much i appreciate your site being simple but effective design wise. it is the one site which always goes up swiftly and never blocks my phone!
    thank you.

    1. Hashem’s timing is always amazing.

      I had no idea that the site design loads well and I’m really glad to hear that, thank you for letting me know! I hope your living circumstances get organized quickly, Nathalie.

  4. Hi Avivah,
    This is such a great post. I truly believe that this attitude is the way to happiness in life, and not just thinking it – but acting on it.
    It was so lovely to meet you in person for the first time at the Temech Conference.
    Naomi

  5. A few years we found ourselves in a desperate situation that we didn’t even know was possible. We survived, but were forever changed. And in retrospect, we are thankful for these changes. Something I started doing at that time was keeping a gratitude journal – writing down what I was thankful for. Because life was so egregious when I started this habit, I carried it with me and wrote them down when these moments happened. At the end of the day, it helped reading thru the list. And later on, as things improved this became the time when things were entered. One of the things that became glaringly obvious was the fact that most entries were not about things .. it was moments, time .. and people. We have so little time it seems slothful to waste any of it being anything but grateful. Oh, and tonight, there is another name to enter. Thank YOU, Aviviah!

    1. Rebeccas, welcome and thank you for this wonderful comment, so many great points!

      I’m a huge fan of gratitude lists – I don’t do it daily but when things are very hard, I do because it’s so important to keep a perspective when everything around me feels very hard.

      I really love what you said about most moments are about experiences and relationships – I once heard a talk show host speaking about his feeling that it was more worthwhile to spend money on trips, for example, than new furniture, because the trip would leave memories of special experiences and the new couch would get old and the specialness would wear off. I’ve thought of that many times over the years and put my efforts with my family towards experiences rather than things because this really is what we get the most satisfaction and joy from.

      1. Had such a serendipitous moment last night before sleeping. Have just started a book , “The Sabbath” by Heschel. What a delicious read! “The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments.” .. and .. “We must not forget that it is not a thing that lends significance to a moment; it is the moment that lends significance to things”. I could go on and on .. but am loath to waste time and space .. just wanted to share.

  6. This was a great post Mommy, very thought provoking and inspiring. And congratulations on finally getting the floor fixed! :)

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