One of the top songs in the country right now featuring T.I. and Rihanna is "Live Your Life." This song is not only a global hit, but also a pretty big hit in my house right now. I admit to downloading the song to my ipod and having dance parties with my girls in the kitchen. I can't help it. I feel a burst of adrenaline every time I hear "Mia-hee, Mia-Haa. Mia Hoo, Mia Ha Ha ". I can't resist the urge to blast it at full volume and shake my tail feather or beat the steering wheel. Besides its catchy opening, two simple sentences in the beginning of the song get me going; "what you need to do is be thankful for the life you got, you know what I'm sayin'. stop lookin' at what you ain't got, start being thankful for what you do got"(T.I.). A rapper's ramblings couldn't be any more genuine or mind-altering. Be thankful! Count your blessings! Have an attitude of gratitude!
Our nation is currently in an economic crisis partly due to the fact that Americans have been trapped in a cycle of wanting more and wanting bigger and better. A bigger house, faster car, or more material possessions. If our attitudes shift towards recognizing the gifts in our lives, then perhaps the need to look further or larger will stop at our own doorsteps. The gift of gratitude forces us to contemplate the bounties of our lives. Being thankful everyday can lead to more contentment and even more blessings coming into our lives in small, subtle ways. Another aspect of being thankful is having the ability to discern the gifts in our tests and trials. If you believe in the philosophy that everything happens for a reason, then look at each situation, whether the outcome is or is not how you had hoped, in a positive light. Be thankful for the gift that emerges in those times of trial.
How often do you express gratitude to your spouse? Expressing positive emotions or validations to one another can sustain your marriage. In the book How Full is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton (Gallup Press, 2005), the author describes a scenario which has been studied by John Gottman of The Gottman Institute. He suggests that there is a magic ratio of 5:1 in terms of a balance between positive to negative interactions with our partners. In fact, Gottman teamed up with two mathematicians to prove the validity of this ratio. He studied 700 couples who had just received their marriage licenses. For each couple the research team videotaped a fifteen minute conversation between husband and wife and counted the number of positive and negative interactions. Then, based on the 5:1 ratio, they determined whether or not the marriage would be successful. Ten years later they followed up with the participants and looked at their original predictions. They had predicted the divorce rate with 94% accuracy.
The importance of expressing thankfulness at home, work and in the community keeps life celebratory and bountiful. One of the most influential ways to offer thanks to someone is by writing a validation. You can visit www.bucketbook.com and go to the Drop Zone to send electronic drops to someone as a way to acknowledge them for the virtues and actions for which you are grateful.
As a gift to yourself today, find some time to reflect on what you have. A Rihanna song may not be the catalyst for you to begin this journey of gratitude, but maybe a warm house, enjoyable food or a nice glass of wine may start the process.
Peace and Hope,