Gratitude: The Must-Have for Success

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Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!

I grew up singing this hymn, albeit in French, by Johnson Oatman, Jr. and set beautifully to music by Edwin O. Excell. The chorus is a gentle yet powerful reminder to take the time to be grateful.

Gratitude is the must-have ingredient for success - whether it's success personally, professionally, or spiritually. Studies show that taking the time to count your blessings, to verbally express your gratitude, to dwell on what you have to be thankful for, does wonders for mental health by redirecting the thoughts to a more positive outlook on life.

Journaling your blessings, particularly at the end of the day just prior to going to bed, has been shown to relax the mind and body, improve mood, and produce feelings of contentment. With your mind and body in this "feel good" state, you'll fall asleep easier and sleep more soundly.

But you don't have to wait until the end of your day to think of your blessings and be grateful. Instead of grinding our way through our daily activities, complaining about the things that don't go well, and griping about the people who seem to only make our lives more difficult, swap out that grumble for a word of gratitude.

Sounds easier said than done, right? It's a worthwhile habit to get into, nonetheless. And it's always easier (and way more fun!) to take on a challenge with friends along for support. Hold each other accountable to counteract every complaint with a compliment. To count a blessing for every bellyache. To find something praiseworthy for every protest.

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Those that are truly successful and enjoy a rich and meaning life will tell you that practicing this spiritual principle of gratitude has allowed them to reach unimaginable heights and be a blessing to those in their circles of influence and beyond.

Develop your "gratitude reflex." Despite and in spite of the circumstances that surround you, find something, anything, to be grateful for at that very moment. You'll find an inner peace and the strength you need to keep pushing forward.

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Dr. Darlye Élise Innocent, MSW, Ph.D., The Whole Being Health & Success Expert, is founder of ExceedTheOrdinary.com and STRIDE staff.