‘A moment of gratitude makes a difference in your attitude’ – Bruce Wilkinson
When you think about gratitude or being grateful… what comes to mind? How do you define the concept of gratification?
I believe gratitude to be a quality of being thankful and having the ability to show or feel an appreciation for the world around you. When you are expressing gratitude, you are being mindful. It means you’ve taken a moment out of your busy, fast-paced life to pause and appreciate just how lucky you truly are.
Why Should We Practice Gratitude?
Simple! To be happy! When we see things as they are, we have the power to turn a negative situation or experience into a positive one and as a result, we release endorphins and happy hormones as opposed to activating stress responses in the body.
I can give you a perfect example!
Late last year, it was a hot summer’s day and my partner and I were lugging our brand new 50-inch TV up the stairs to our apartment. We managed to bring it inside without any damage and set to work unpacking the box and setting up the stand for it to rest on. When it came time to place the TV on the stand, it proved to be very difficult and things weren’t working how we wanted to. It was a boiling hot day and we were feeling stressed and tired. I remember feeling so irritable and I’m ashamed to admit I uttered a ‘why me’ during the arduous task. It was in that moment I let out a chuckle and thought…what do I actually have to complain about?
My partner and I are so lucky to own our apartment when so many people have to rent or have no home at all. We are so fortunate that we have stable jobs and good incomes when so many others struggle to find work and live pay cheque to pay cheque. We are so privileged to be able to afford luxuries like a 50-inch television to hook up to our brand new Xbox One and here I am uttering ‘why me?’ In that one moment of mindfulness, my entire perspective changed. I realised I had so much to be grateful for and I never wanted to take my wonderful life for granted ever again…so I no longer did!
Not only does practising gratitude give you a reason to smile, it also transfers to the people in your life whether you’ve interacted once or known them for a long time. As I became more mindful, so did my language both verbal and non-verbal. My emails at work became more expressive. I wasn’t just writing ‘thanks’ but letting my colleagues know just how much I appreciated their help.
I began a Random Acts of Kindness Journal and kept noting down things I could do to show my appreciation to the world around me. I mailed letters to my mum, sister and best friend to let them know how amazing they were. I had so much already…it was time to give back!
One afternoon, I wrote out random messages on post it notes and placed them on random cars around the area. To this day, I still don’t know whether the owners of the selected cars scrunched up the notes or felt like that had made their day. It didn’t matter. I didn’t do it for approval. I did it because everybody deserves to feel appreciated and acknowledged.
I wake up every morning feeling lucky and know that no matter what happens to me…there will always be something to be grateful for. I just need to stop and look around…
The same goes for the majority of people that live in Australia. We are so lucky to live in a country that provides clean water and plenty of opportunities. We are lucky to live in a country that is safer than most other countries. We are lucky to have a good transportation system and many places that provide help and assistance like Centrelink, HeadSpace and even shelters for the homeless, women and teenagers.
How To Live A Life Of Gratitude…
- Keep a Gratitude Journal or Diary! Every night before you go to bed, write down 5-10 things you are thankful for.
- There are handy gratitude apps for I-Phone and Android that let you add photos to your entries.
- You can practise stillness by listening to a Gratitude Meditation which can be found on YouTube or SoundCloud.
- Say thank you more often or let somebody know just how much you appreciate what they do for you.
- Give to a charity that means a lot to you –my personal favourite is Edgar’s Mission!
- Practice Ahimsa – non-violence to all beings including animals.
- Write down what you perceive to be a negative in your life and then list 5 positives that will change your perspective.
- Show your appreciation to the environment! Use canvas bags instead of plastic. Buy organic, cruelty-free products. Limit your water and electricity usage. Don’t litter. Recycle!
- Take a mindfulness walk through nature where you really notice the sounds and beauty around you.
- Don’t scoff your meal or eat past the point of feeling full and bloated. It is a privilege to be able to eat when many third world countries are experiencing famine so don’t be greedy. Eat until you are satisfied and chew your food slowly and mindfully.
Break Down Gratitude Into Categories!
The best way to capture just how lucky you truly are is to take a blank piece of paper and write down the following categories:
- Melbourne (or whichever city you hail from)
- Winter (or whichever season you aren’t particularly fond of)
- Yourself (this includes your positive qualities, traits, skills, strengths and talents)
You can add as many as you like!
Under these categories, make a list of all the wonderful things you have and are truly thankful for. By the end…you will be wondering why you grumbled about being stuck in traffic this morning because hey…you have car and somewhere to be!
I started with two blank pages…
And by the end…I had a lot to smile about!
Last but not least – write out or print an existing Gratitude Prayer and stick it where you can see it every day.
I wrote my own Gratitude Prayer that I’d like to share with you which helps keep me grounded and humble.
My Gratitude Prayer
- I am thankful for the things I don’t yet know…for it gives me the opportunity to learn.
- I am thankful for my limitations…for they give me room for improvement.
- I am thankful for the challenges and moments of discomfort…for they build my strength and character.
- I am thankful for when I’m tired and weary…because it means I’ve made a difference.
- I am thankful for the rain…because it waters and nourishes the earth.
- I am thankful for my mind…because it has given me awareness to love and care for animals.
- I am thankful for the people that have hurt, abused or rejected me…because they have taught me the most valuable lessons.
- I am thankful for the times I couldn’t leave my house…because now being out in nature is the most beautiful experience.
- I am thankful for my big loving, sensitive heart…because love is all you need.
Peace and Love