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          Welcome to Stren # 26, that addresses one of our most important mental skills.  Gratitude is appreciation for what we have received.  To gratify is “to please or satisfy.”  It is also from the obsolete word “grate” meaning agreeable.1   Gratitude is a powerful force to grow our skill in self-endorsement.  Creating an attitude of gratitude offers an effective way to become our own best friend.  Gratitude is an antidote for automatic negative thoughts; that is, the self-putdowns and guilt that make us our own worst enemy.  I’ve received many comments on the effectiveness of today’s stren.

          Make a written list of all the important positives for which you can be grateful.  Review your positives regularly so that you can easily call them to mind.  Whenever you identify a new positive, add it to the list.  Grow your list!  Remind yourself of these positives frequently throughout the day, especially when your automatic putdowns or worries pop up.  With repetition, you will make the addition of these positives to your thinking a habit.  Your new attitude of gratitude will replace your automatic negative thoughts.  Eventually you’ll find that you will no longer need your written list. 

          Watch out for “yes buts.”  “Yes buts” are almost always the unwelcome voice of your automatic negative thoughts resisting extinction.  Spotting these “yes buts” and vigorously attacking them is fun, a marvelous outlet for your innate harmful aggression that hurts no one! 

Consider this example of a list of positives offered by one person who made it work:

☺    I have life.
☺    I have the capacity to think, to teach myself, to grow, to fulfill myself.
☺    I have the ability to smile, laugh, and feel good and inflation doesn’t raise the price of a laugh.
☺    I recognize others who have far less health, wealth, or opportunity than I, yet they seem to genuinely enjoy themselves and live with enthusiasm.  If others can, I know there’s a way!
☺    I have the capacity to engage regularly in interesting dialogue with myself and with others.
☺    I have reasonable security from physical harm.
☺    I live at a time and place in the world where I have better than ever opportunities for personal freedom, health, education, travel, work, and physical comforts.
☺    Important parts of me work well: my ability to learn, my vital organs, and much more.
☺    I have people in my life who love me or would help me. These people include my wife, my children, family, my family of friends, and a number of people I can yet develop as support people.
☺    I have people in my life who can enjoy what I have to offer - family, friends, and humanity. 
☺    Even if I reach a place in my life where I don’t know anyone, there are fellow humans who are more than willing to help (clergy, professional counselors, or lay people who are self-sufficient or supported by the community).  My government is available to offer me care if I need it and when I ask for it. 
☺    I possess skills: reading, writing, expressing myself, and I could go on quite a bit here.
☺    I have work skills such as conscientiousness, expressiveness, formal education, and I could add many more here.  I am capable of teaching myself new skills, AND there are vast human and material resources available to me, free for the taking.
☺    I have made the following accomplishments: I like myself, I have good friends, I have developed adaptation skills, and I can add many more.
☺    Positive qualities others have told me about myself include warmth, patience, empathy, an interest in people, and a number of others. 
☺    Positive qualities I have include the willingness to work, to love, to laugh at my mistakes, and other qualities. 
☺    Most important, what I lack that is really important, including becoming a good friend to myself, I can attain.

1 American Heritage dictionary