A wise man (who may or may not be named Matthew McConaughey and have really cute dimples–but that’s besides the point) once said that “God has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates.” It’s a part of the three things he says he can’t live a day without: something to look up to (God), something to look forward to (his family) and someone to chase (himself 10 years from now).

I thought it was a fitting idea to start the year out as I’ve found my own self becoming more conscious of gratitude, a simple word that can change your life so much.

grat • i • tude

noun: gratitude
  1. the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

How many of us truly show gratitude? I know I’m guilty of failing to be grateful on multiple accounts. It’s so hard at times to see how blessed we are–at least we think it’s hard, but really our blessings are all around us: having another day to be alive, a simple phone conversation with a friend, having clothes or a meal to eat, our five senses. If you were to write a list of all the things you have that many people in the world do not, you’d be amazed at the sense of gratitude that swells inside you. And somehow, before you know it, the current situation doesn’t seem as bleak.

I know this firsthand as I try to spread kindness wherever I go, but as a very ambitious person there’s always more in my imagination, always the possibility of something lying beyond the horizon. As I’m learning through studying about my Myers-Briggs Personality Type (which you’ll read about soon on the blog), ENFP, it’s normal to feel restless, but it must be harnessed. What I’ve done recently to combat that is think of at least two things every day that I’m thankful for, that went better than they could have, that makes me feel grateful.

Some days don’t feel as grateful as others, some days won’t be easy to find the silver lining, but it’s not about creating cheesy things to be “happy” about, it’s about counting your blessings instead of your sorrows. Seeing your glass half full and not half empty, and letting God fill up the rest in due time. What Matthew was saying really does work. When we show gratitude our hearts change in ways we wouldn’t imagine, our brains start to process life a bit differently. We are more positive, we are kinder to other people, we become more content, and more humble. We are more likely to help, and all these attributes change our aura. People are drawn to grateful people, a world of opportunity opens up. The more we express gratitude, the better our souls become, the more our lives thrive.

So next time you are restless about your situation, angry after a crappy day, or just feeling like your life is miserable, take out a pen and write down some things about your life that are true blessings. Not superficial, not necessarily material (though it can be), but things you can be thankful for. Then ponder on these and make an effort each day to spread gratitude in your thoughts, your actions, your words. You won’t be perfect at first, but it’ll work out if you keep at it. And that gratitude will reciprocate, one action at a time.

I know you don’t always get what you want, but you end up getting what you need.

— Matthew McConaughey