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Make 2019 The Year of Gratitude! by Bonnie Brinkman

Jan 30, 2019

I have become a BIG believer in having an “attitude of gratitude”.

I admit that I had to work at developing that attitude, continue to improve at it, and believe it is a major part of what makes me happier than I’ve ever been as an adult.

Research has shown that gratitude is highly correlated with personal happiness. You may have heard the psychobabble term of “confirmation bias” that is backed up by numerous research studies over the years. Confirmation bias means that people will search for and interpret ‘evidence’ to confirm what they already believe. So if you believe everyone is untrustworthy, you will determine that if others do something minor, it will be used as confirmation that they are untrustworthy.

If you believe your relationship to a spouse, a daughter/son, a parent, a sibling- even a co-worker- won’t work, you will look for ‘evidence’ and interpret even small things as more ‘proof’ that the relationship is hopeless when that might not be the case.

Fortunately, the same works for the positives. If I believe people who love me, have positive or neutral intent in their words or behavior toward me, even something that I may react to with frustration or even hurt, I can remind myself that they probably have positive or neutral intent, even if the effect was negative. So it makes it much easier to talk things through without blame and attacking.

During the day, if we look for things, people, events that are positive, we can develop quite the gratitude attitude.  I remember someone I worked with years ago who told me he didn’t have anything to be grateful for. A disability prevented him from working; he worried about his economic situation, etc. He really hadn’t made friends here in town, etc., etc. Those things were real and were challenging.

Yet, I encouraged him to consciously look for something positive that he could be grateful for each day. We started with basics — he had a roof over his head (AND it was paid for!). He had food. He could see. He could walk. The day was beautiful. Yes, his attitude turnaround was very slow, yet his confirmation bias of looking to be grateful, helped enormously toward having feelings he called “happy”, and people telling him they enjoyed being around him.

Some days, probably all of us have to go back to those basics — “I can talk, walk, hear.” “I have indoor plumbing.” “ Reds’ baseball might be fun again”. Anything!  It doesn’t mean sweeping the negative or frustrations underthe carpet. It means holding both and refusing to allow the frustrating situations to drag you into a swamp of negativity and pessimism. Let’s rise above the Swamp, and invite others to join us.

See what it’s like to make a commitment for 2 months, to think each night before you go to bed of something (or many!) you can be grateful for that day. You will gradually find more and more. Let’s remember: We always find more of what we’re looking for.

Gratitude engraved stone


Bonnie Brinkman and her wife Darcy offer 2-day educational workshops for couples, based on the book, Getting The Love You Want, by Harville Hendrix and his wife, Helen LaKelly Hunt. Their next weekend is February 16, 17.