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Mastering the art of Gratitude

In 'Gratitude, a path to celebrating life', we read about the significance of gratitude in celebrating life, and the pivotal role of our internal belief on our gratitude, now in part two we will look at ways to improve our gratitude by developing a positive, purposeful and daily habit of gratitude.

It is said that ‘our daily habits define who we are’. Habits are something done regularly, it evolves and strengthens over time. Hence start a habit of gratitude today. Start looking for little things to feel grateful for. Start looking at little things others do for you that you can be grateful about. The key is to start today, be intentional about it. And when done consistently, it reinforces your feelings of celebrating life.

However to sustain your start to gratitude, it is imperative that you understand your intention. Recent science have proven that our intention drives our behavior, hence presenting a question, how can I be more intentional about gratitude?

The Intention

What is Intention? Or how does intention become a driving force towards behavior/action/change. The framework of the Reasoned-Action Approach (RAA) based on theoretical ideas of Martin Fishbein and Icek Ajzen bring forward three main elements that shape our intention,

  • Attitude towards behavior

  • Perceived norm

  • Perceived behavioral control

It is observed that the synergy of these three elements will generate the required threshold energy for an intention to jump into a behavior.

While preparing to take steps towards celebrating life by embracing gratitude, let’s understand a little bit about perceived social norm and perceived behavioral control, as we have briefly discussed about beliefs and attitudes in part one of the article.

Perceived norm

Simply put, perceived norms mean, your social landscape act as an enabler or inhibitor, depending on their collective preference towards gratitude. Imagine your social circle endorses gratefulness as an accepted behavior, then there is a higher chance you will be more intentional about gratitude, that will further generate the tipping force required to begin and sustain the behavior modification. If converse is the case, you most likely will not build enough threshold energy to act, as the intention is not reinforced by your social circle.

Perceived behavioral control

Lastly, the perceived control of behavior, it simple means, being grateful is a choice. Since life is not always kind and it is defined by many social expectations that curb self exploration. Consequently priming people to perceive they have very little control over their gratitude behaviors, as the ‘cause and effect’ nature of gratitude is popularized.

Let me assure you, there is much you control, more than what you actually think at any given moment in time. Unfortunately, we are not encouraged to explore the unknown self, rather we stay in the harbor of safety of victim-hood.

Therefore, when you start to perceive you are in control of your gratitude behavior, a strong intention is born that triggers a powerful behavior change.

‘Betsie and the fleas'

There are many research, biographies and cases studies that urge us to look at gratitude as a behavior that can be adopted in many strange contexts. I personally draw inspiration from ‘Betsie and the fleas’, a recount of the conversation between Betsie and Corrie, to be or not to be grateful for the flea infestation in their barrack at the notorious Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, and how finally the flea infestation was revealed to be a item of gratitude in the larger outcome.

With the synergy of attitude, norm and control achieving critical intentional energy, behavior follows seamlessly. The positive psychology research outlined in Harvard Health Publications states that "gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness."

Action Steps

Let me encourage you with these SIX Action Items that you can do regularly to improve your overall gratitude experience, because the more you do, the more your intention is reinforced, and consequentially paving the way for celebrating life.

1. Gratitude Journal: Of all the tools out there, the most revered and powerful tool is the gratitude journal. Writing a descriptive recount of the day, with special focus on gratitude

2. Most Important Gratitude Item: Make a list of 10 items you are most grateful for, review them daily, replacing items on the list periodically.

3. Recognizing Others: Take purposeful effort to tell people around you, especially your loved once, how much you appreciate them for all they do, and be specific about it.

4. Mindful Breaks: STOP! and take a mindful break to notice the world around you, and the beauty in nature that we miss because we are busy

5. Random Acts of Kindness: Be on a conscious look out for acts of random kindness that you can do. Its even more powerful if it can be periodically document.

6. Complaint Free Day: Schedule a Complaint Free Day once every 15 days, when you won’t complain about anything.

It was my pleasure to bring this to you, and I am excited to soon share the third part on how to lead others to gratitude.

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