Intentional Dad | Exceptional Life

A daditude of gratitude

by Steve on April 28, 2010 · 2 comments

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

For years religions and philosophers have embraced gratitude.    Research continues on the benefits of gratitude and how it affects happiness.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been experimenting with gratitude.  I’ve always been grateful for what I have, who I am and where I came from, but I rarely took the time to think about it.

In a paper by Robert A. Emmons, University of California, Davis, Emmons points out:

“those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.”

As busy dads, we are pulled in many directions and most of the time the rushing around doesn’t allow us the time to sit back and say “wow, I’m thankful for that”.  If you are like me, you feel the stress of career, family and fatherhood.  It’s not that you aren’t grateful, you just don’t think about it.  The Intentional Dad is grateful. He finds the time to let himself and others know why he’s grateful.  He’s more fulfilled because he’s grateful.

There are significant benefits to gratitude that can improve your life instantly.

  1. Slowing down. Taking 5-10 minutes to list the top 10 reasons why I’m grateful today forces me to pause, reflect and appreciate.
  2. Peace of mind. Many of use are concerned that we are not living up to our expectations that have been arbitrarily set for us in our own minds or by other people. Writing down why you’re grateful allows you to see on paper what you’ve accomplished and what you have.  This brings peace of mind.
  3. Appreciation. In a world of consumerism, it’s easy to think, even for a second, that I need more stuff.  The reality is that if you are reading this, you probably have a lot of stuff.  You’re probably reading this from your computer in your house.  All reasons to be grateful.  There is nothing really wrong with getting more stuff, but before you do, pause and appreciate what you do have.  You may decide that you don’t need the new stuff afterall.
  4. A renewed outlook. If you take 5 minutes each day to list the top ten reasons that you are grateful, you’ll start each day renewed.  Sure, there are stresses ahead of you today.  Maybe your daughter is crying upstairs, you have a big report due to your boss or your body feels weak because you have exercised in a month.  I guarantee that you can think of ten things to be grateful for despite all the negative feelings you harbor.  Refocus your mind on gratitude and the tasks of the day won’t seem so big.
  5. Goal attainment. Keeping a daily gratitude list will help you achieve your interpersonal and health goals.  This is probably because grateful people report a higher level of well-being, which translates into more energy, positive emotions, life satisfaction and vitality.  How could it not benefit your goals? (Emmons)

Today I woke early. Here’s my list: warm house, morning silence, my wife, hot tea, a job, sleeping daughter, friends who love me, sunrise, ears to hear the waking birds, thoughts to write.

How about you? What are you grateful for today?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dean May 22, 2010 at 11:29 am

Great post! #1 is something I think all busy dad’s need to do way more often. We tend to focus on what we don’t have as opposed to really appreciating what we do have.

Helen June 12, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Hey Steve,
Great post! I’m not a man, so I’m not a dad, and I’m not a parent, so I’m not a mom. But I believe in being grateful, and I can relate to what you wrote. Thanks!

Your grateful friend….

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