“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”
– Denis Waitley
The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been often and widely talked about. Long-term studies show that gratitude is an effective tool. This a particularly helpful tool for those living with ADHD.
An appreciative attitude contributes to a host of positive outcomes including:
- greater success in work
- improved health
- peak performance in sports and business
- an increased sense of well-being
- faster rate of recovery from illness, surgery, and pitfalls
While we may acknowledge many benefits of gratitude, it can be difficult to attain and sustain. People living with ADHD are often trained to only notice what is broken, undone, or lacking in our lives. For gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time to develop.
That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of dwelling on what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of opportunities and blessings life has to offer.
Remember, gratitude isn’t a set of ‘rose colored glasses’. It isn’t meant to be a blindly optimistic approach through which our unique ADHD challenges are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more of a ‘tuning fork’ that helps us determine where we put our focus and attention. As people living we ADHD, we can face a variety of challenges including feeling like an underachiever, alone and inadequate, doubting our capacity to succeed, and/or difficulty regulating our emotions. We may encounter individuals who do not understand us and/or who want to change us instead of learning ways to support us. It is important that we recognize this and do what we feel we need to do to address those. It is equally important that we focus on the gifts of life. When we do, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.
There is much to be grateful for: the warm summer day, coloring books for adults, friends and family, chocolate, sing-a-longs, our health, mangoes, roses, butterflies, rainstorms, good books, time off (I could go on) … What’s on your list?
Some Ways to Practice Gratitude:
- Keep a gratitude journal. List things you are thankful for. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping the journal where you can see it will remind you to think with positivity and gratefulness.
- Make a gratitude collage – Tap into your unique ADHD strengths of creativity and draw, paint, and/or cut out and paste pictures.
- Identify specific situations to practice gratitude in. (e.g. at the coffeemaker or water cooler at home, work, or the gym, at the table, or make it a part of your morning or evening routine)
- Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.
- Make a gratitude list. When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.
- Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.
As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur. You begin to feel more fulfilled and you may be delighted to discover sensations of contentment and hope. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.