The power of gratitude 18



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There are three tenses related to our existence: past, present and future. Two of these can be highly emotionally charged while the other is devoid of stress and emotion. One has the power to enhance our life while the other two distract our lives. Can you see the distinction?

When you are in a state of gratitude, you are in the present—in the “now”. Giving thanks and appreciating what you have in your life keeps you centred and reduces stress. Contrary to this, past and future thinking may keep us in those emotional states that wear us down and even make us ill. We all have thoughts about the future or past, but it’s a matter of bringing balance to our thinking.


The Past

The past is our history. When we think of events in our lives, we experience regret, guilt, remorse, anger or just plain sadness. The older we become, the more extensive is our history and we can be more susceptible to these negative emotions. They become a drag on our lives. When we self-talk phrases such as, “I wish, I had…” or “I should have…”, we know that we are in the past. We believe that because of our actions we caused more pain than pleasure or more negative than positive.


The Future

The future is our mystery. We don’t know what is on the horizon. We can plan for the future but until it is experienced, it is an unknown. Thinking about the future can lead to fear and uncertainty. Self-talk starts with phrases such as, “I wish that…” or “I hope that…”. We believe that we are going to experience more pain than pleasure or more negative than positive.


The Present

When we are present, we are in the “now”. There is no stress or anxiety at that moment. We cannot live our whole lives in the present but to the extent that we do, we are able to function better and with purpose. We can achieve this state by having gratitude for what we have in our lives and appreciating each day. When we are grateful, we are balancing out the negativity that sometimes overwhelms us so that we can see things as they are, appreciating both the ups and downs of life.


So how do we get into a state of gratitude?

  1. Each day tell your partner or family member that you love them, preferably first thing in the morning and then last thing in the evening. We make sure to do this daily; love is embracing both positives and negatives about the person.
  1. Write a list of what you are grateful for in your life, save it, add to it and read it regularly.
  1. Do a regular meditation—even a short one—on what you appreciate in your life.


Without gratitude and appreciation for your life, you are unlikely to receive more to be grateful for, so start implementing this powerful force today.


What are you grateful for in your life? How do you show gratitude and appreciate every day? Tell us below.

Dr Ely Lazar and Dr Adele Thomas

  1. Yes, Ely and Adele, we are very much masters of our own destiny, especially in the way we recall our past and consider our future.
    The love of my life died two years ago but, perhaps because of the years caring for her, the time required to keep her as well and as comfortable as humanly possible, I have no regrets.
    The future? Well, because I have nobody to take care of me, the only concern I have is my wish to be gone quickly – not that I’m in a rush! – and not create a problem for others.
    ‘The list’ is a great idea. I use it now and will continue to do so.
    Thank you for the article.

  2. Hard to tell someone you love them when you live alone. I have made gratitude lists & re-read & added to them. Kerry is right & I am very grateful that I live in our wonderful country and the fact that I have been lucky enough to see much of it. I do find it difficult to “seize the day” however.

  3. I try to. It is easy to think fearfully or be anxious about the morrow but I am so grateful for so much. We celebrate Thanksgiving in our home and with our little family to make us all think about the things we have not want……

  4. Every day. Sometimes I greet the day Oh SH.. and then I make it out of bed. Its the little things in life we are thankful for

  5. I’m keeping gratitude journal (exercise book) good to look back and realise how lucky we are even in difficult times,little things more precious sometimes than major events!

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