How to deepen your sense of gratitude and make the world a better place…

Three kinds of gratitude that can’t help but make a brighter world… (or Your world brighter)…

Gratitude helps depression and anxiety; Easy, Daily and Paradoxical Gratitude and gratefulness.

There are at least three different levels of things we can be grateful for in our daily lives that will help us to raise our own well-being and sense of satisfaction in life.

Gratitude can ease depression, your anxiety and more…

Having and expressing gratitude is good medicine and exercise for the heart. When we feel down, depressed, or focused on all the things going wrong, we can make a gratitude list or notice every day something simple we feel gratitude for that we hadn’t noticed before.

If we are troubled with anxieties and worries, we can calm ourselves by considering all the things that are more right than wrong at this moment, or that don’t need fixing right now – and be grateful for those.

If we’re having trouble or stress in our relationships with our partners or kids, we can shift our focus and consider the things in them that we are really appreciative of, or remember something we have really loved about them – and express those appreciations.

If we’re too narcissistic or self-absorbed, we can have gratitude for all the others out there who are less fortunate than us and who remind us to be generous and giving, to think of others, and to pull us outside of our selves. We can be grateful, not for their plight (better them than me), but for the opportunity they give us to be a better human being and to minimize our own selfishness.

There are those Easy Gratitudes we can all appreciate –  gifts that are meant for us and that we truly like and enjoy or are surprised by. Things that delight us; things that are easy to be grateful for:

  • A bouquet of flowers
  • A vacation
  • A hot meal bought for a homeless person sitting outside the coffee shop
  • A gift bought by someone who loves you and noticed you were eyeing that special thing but hadn’t gotten it for yourself
  • Someone who offers to help you move or make a meal for you when you’re sick.

Then there are those Daily Gratitudes – the things that we are surrounded by every day but that we have a tendency to take for granted and not fully appreciate. Things that we don’t really take in, that are truly spectacular but hardly noticed. These are a little harder to be grateful for.

When was the last time you had the experience that the world had not changed but you had, and so were able to be truly grateful for:

  • Being able to turn the faucet on and have water immediately come out?
  • An elevator that takes you from floor to floor – especially when your hands are full – even if it is slow?
  • A stop light that is working
  • The morning dew on a leaf that shimmers as you walk by, or the way the sun rises and sets every day, no matter what
  • A barista at the bakery who makes your coffee every morning
  • That person in your family who is a challenge to spend time with, but has a great sense of humor? Or the one who never seems to help out enough, but is really patient?
  • Your partner who you think you know so well but have been surprised to learn something new about, or have seen them in a different way?

Then of course, there are those Paradoxical Gratitudes that are often hardest to be grateful for. The “gifts“ that come when something god-awful happens: The diagnosis of breast cancer; an unexpected death, a terrible fire or hurricane or mass violence. Your child struggling with a difficult emotional or physical illness.

When those things that we would never wish on anybody else do happen, we can’t be grateful for those events, but we can be grateful for the opportunities that come from them:

  • The opportunity to express our own (or listen to someone else’s) deep emotion
  • The opportunity to be deeply present to the immediacy of whatever has happened
  • The opportunity to come together – sometimes with family, sometimes with strangers, who share in and are connected to this experience of ours.
  • The opportunity to encounter our own faith, courage, goodness of heart that isn’t always easily available to us
  • The opportunity to really walk in someone else’s shoes and know what they feel like
  • The opportunity to not be alone, when we reach out, to give or to receive support.

In our daily lives as humans, we have ample opportunity to experience all three levels of gratitude: the Easy, the Daily, and the Paradoxical. We can lighten our load – lessen our depression and anxiety and enhance our happiness – by looking for, being present to, and deeply taking in the myriad of things that are available to us to be grateful for.

May your Thanksgiving week be filled with Easy, Daily and Paradoxical kinds of gratitude and may your heart be expanded with warmth and care in doing so.

I’d love to know – where do you find these three levels of gratitude in your life? What has surprised you lately?

If you or someone you love is struggling with not being able to find anything to be grateful for in your life, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
[email protected]
(510) 482-4445


  1. Kennedy Golden on November 21, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    So timely. So many good reminders- gratitude can be for small things, or huge- for food and shelter, family, safety, and for life saving medical procedures. Today I am grateful for good medical care and for the delicious burst of tangerine in my mouth… Being grateful for everything, even when it is hard, can make life so much more rich… I’m thinking of being grateful for taking a chance and asking for help to clear off some “clutter” from a piece of furniture- there was appreciation for many things, memories shared, and also some letting go of objects that no longer meant a great deal to either of us. While I had approached the project with dread, I did my best to jump in with curiosity, and it ended with joy and gratitude. thank you for your help with this. May your season be filled with gratitude and joy, too.

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