We should make every effort to be of a grateful disposition.

We should make every effort to be of a grateful disposition.Seneca

A gratitude journal is a great way to build your strength. Every time you feel gratitude, write it down. And any time you're feeling down, read it.

A gratitude journal is a great way to build your strength and power of gratitude. Every time you feel gratitude, write it down, and any time you’re feeling ungrateful, read it. Between the two, you can’t lose!

What does that mean?
This appears to be a misattribution of something which Epictetus said some time after Seneca was dead. Marcus Aurelius even references the quote as being by Epictetus.

The longer version of the quote is: “From everything which is or happens in the world, it is easy to praise Providence, if a man possesses these two qualities, the faculty of seeing what belongs and happens to all persons and things, and a grateful disposition.”

The longer version, it appears to be a formula for happiness. We can be happy, or praise our good fortune, if we can do two things: see all that is happening, and to be grateful by nature.

Being able to see all is beyond us, so some level of trust that things will go well is necessary. Over the other, we have complete control. We can be as grateful as we choose to be, under any circumstance.

Why is gratitude important?
Where would we be if we had no gratitude? It is defined at theFreeDictionary.com as “a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation” which seems appropriate. You have probably met someone who was having a very bad day, and had no appreciation for something you did for them. Extend that attitude to everyone, every day.

Does a world without gratitude sound like any fun to you? I don’t think I’d enjoy it much at all. All day, every day, for the rest of your miserable life. I don’t know if I’d wish that on my worst enemy. Gratitude comes from within, and for may, it comes unbidden, whether they want to or not. It is simply part of who they are.

That doesn’t mean if you don’t immediately well up with gratitude when someone opens a door for you, that you are broken or bereft of gratitude. It just means that you haven’t exercised that portion of yourself enough for it to be your go-to, strongest reaction. And there is such a thing as too much of anything.

I have found that gratitude, or lack of it, directly correlates to my level of happiness. When I have a grateful disposition, I tend to be much happier than when I do not. To me, that is how important it is to be grateful. What is the relationship between gratitude and happiness in your experience?

Where can I apply this in my life?
Let’s start by taking stock of your gratitude. When do you tend to feel gratitude? When someone does something nice for you? Only when it’s really elaborate, difficult or expensive? Only with certain people? Yes, it sounds silly, but if you don’t know where you are, how will you get anywhere?

Take a moment and think through the different aspects of your life, and all your different roles you play in this world. Parent, child, friend, lover, worker, boss, stranger, learner, teacher. When are you most likely to feel gratitude? With people, or only with puppies or kittens?

Now consider the opposite. When do you feel least gratitude? What if you are angry, does that impact your ability to feel gratitude? What if you are only a little mad at someone? What blocks your ability to feel gratitude? What are your rules? What does someone have to do before you feel gratitude towards them?

I hope you were honest with yourself. The point isn’t to grade you or to make you feel bad about yourself. You have to know what your strengths and weakness are before you can start building a better you. It is part of self-examination. It is part of progress. It is part of how you will get to the future.

What can you do to reduce or eliminate the things which make it difficult for you to be grateful? What beliefs must you have to support those attitudes? Can you find counter-examples to help tear down those unhelpful beliefs? How can you reinforce the new beliefs?

What I mean is that if you have a belief that anyone who appears to be helping you is only doing it for their own good, for some hidden agenda. That would make every move mercenary, cold, calculated. Not exactly something which fosters gratitude, right?

But if you could find a counter example, even something you did for someone else, you could start to tear down that limiting belief. Even if it was replaced with most people, rather than all people, it would be a start, right? Find your limiting beliefs and replace them with helpful ones.

What can you do to enhance the things you are already grateful? Can you attempt to be more grateful? Can you lower the threshold for gratitude, that is be grateful for smaller and smaller things? Can you work on being grateful even in the presence of resentment or anger? I believe that gratitude can push them aside, if you practice.

What would your world be like, if you had a more grateful disposition? Would it be better or worse? What are you willing to do to make that happen? When will you start? Only you can answer these questions, and only you can make it happen. I recommend that you get busy.

From: Twitter, @quotesofseneca
confirmed at : http://www.thenagain.info/Classes/Sources/Epictetus.html This appears to be roughly a quote of something said by Epictetus, as written by one of his students. But he lived after Seneca. It is referred in Marcus Aurelius’ works as by Epictetus, so it may be that it is simply misattributed to Seneca. But I believe that it is a neat quote, so let us give it some consideration…
Photo by happy_serendipity

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