And now a blogpost about gratitude, the benefits and how to cultivate this practice. I hope to inspire you to give this a try or that this is a good reminder to show thanks. Please share your experiences and tips & tricks. Love to hear from you!
In the past ten years we have seen an explosion in the scientific study of happiness. The findings are complex and still incomplete, but one simple prescription for happiness is saying thank you. Gratitude it seems is the key to feeling more satisfied with your life. It improves your relationships and is good for your heart. Gratitude is of the highest vibration and it transforms reality from the inside out. “thank you” acknowledges any circumstance as an environment where your most profound expansion occurs, simply by living out the moments that come.
Gratitude hosts benefits such as:
- Stronger immune system and lower blood pressure;
- Higher levels of positive emotions;
- More joy, optimism, and happiness;
- Acting with more generosity and compassion;
- Feeling less lonely and isolated.
Life is a miracle, it is special and not to be taken for granted. See life for the wonder that it is and you will feel much happier. Gratitude brings back the magic in your life. The more gratitude you can express, the more happy you will feel. Gratitude purifies as when you express gratitude from the heart, old resentments and negative feelings are detoxified. Gratitude makes you kinder, softer, gives you perspective, and helps you live in wonder, with pure and open eyes. Gratitude strengthens emotions as it reduces feelings of envy, makes our memories happier, lets us experience good feelings, and helps us bounce back from stress.
“Only 10% of our sense of happiness is influenced by our conditions of life”
But my life sucks
I so often hear the people say they can’t be grateful for a world and life so full of flaws. And I understand. I have lived in dark places. Affirming every day that I was just sitting out my time on this jail planet and not seeing any grace in life. And this wasn’t helping, it only made my situation worse as I was attracting negative experiences in my life, showing me that my life indeed sucked! I am so grateful that when I hit rock bottom, my view on life flipped completely and I can now be grateful for many things. But this didn’t happen overnight or without any practice and dedication. It takes an open heart and daily repetition. But it is so worth it. This year has been a very rough year for me, but I feel more grateful than ever. I see the silver lining and I see beyond what we perceive is happening in our limited perception. We need to remain open and challenge ourselves to see beyond our present pain and disappointment as they always point to opportunities of greater growth. Being grateful is a choice. We can choose our perspective and receive courage and hope. Yawn I do realize that I sound like a self-help book. But this is how I feel and what comes through now. I just type as sentences come to me.
Receive gracefully & gratefully
Sometimes, especially when we are down in the dumps, it seems impossible to be grateful. A way to begin reclaiming gratitude is by remembering to receive gratefully. Focus on receiving. Notice when other people are offering you kindness, and really take a moment to feel this. Pay attention where you feel this in your body. What is the sensation. Receiving opens you up to things to be grateful for.
Question your thoughts
Just ask yourself, is the world really not perfect as is? Life is as it is at this moment. You are perfect at this moment. Of course shit happens, but focussing on this shitness will not make it any better, it just keeps it in place. Having a judgement on your burdens only make them heavier and more intense. Can you see them for what they are? Try and challenge yourself to find the good in every bad situation. We live in a dual world, but there is always a silver lining. Find this and focus on that. And focus on positive change. Don’t become a victim to your thoughts. You can influence so much of your perception. Don’t be tempted to go into groupthinking. Feel how you feel and how you feel is perfect. Who says you have to be cheerful 24/7? But that doesn’t mean that when you are not feeling happy you cannot be grateful. These two attitudes are separate. Experiencing happiness is for a great part influenced by intention and attitude. It is not set in stone or in our DNA, you have the power.
“Gratitude is the greatest tool for happiness and health”
There is a difference between state of mind and feelings. Feelings are subject to circumstances, mostly coming from outside of you. A state of mind is more constant, it is the stream underneath your feelings. You can train your state of mind into becoming a grateful person. At first this will feel strange and unnatural. But it is like sports, you need to train this muscle and it will become easier and easier and slowly into a default state. Feeling and expressing gratitude is a habit we can learn. By practicing this at set times on a daily basis (mornings and evenings, gratitude journal for example). What also helps is wearing a bracelet that reminds you to express gratitude every time you see it or every time you go to the bathroom, contemplate what you are grateful for. When you feel grateful often, this becomes second nature. You will be a grateful person. You will experience happiness on a daily basis en your life will shine a bit brighter. Don’t lose sight of the gains already made, even if they fall short of your minimum ideal. Positive changes happen much faster when people focus on gratitude for the good and cooperate with others on mutual goals to create more good things. You will find there is more and more to be grateful for. If you thank your mind, it will relax. If you thank your heart, it will open. If you thank your past, it will integrate. If your thank your shadow, it will vanish and it you thank your life, it will transform.
Focus on others
Also it helps to focus on others and not our own happiness. Gratitude makes us less self-centred, because the very nature of gratitude is to focus on other’s benevolence. A great way to grow your attitude of gratitude is by helping other people feel grateful. Ask people what they are grateful for and help them focus on seeing the positive side of life. Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative.
Making it real
So how to make this more real and put our intentions into practice, keep ourselves accountable?
The best way to start the day – every day, by expressing gratitude and giving thanks for the day to come. Express what things you will be grateful for that day, set clear and happy intentions. And at the end of the day, give thanks for all the blessings you received that day. A gratitude journal is a great way to really take time to contemplate your gratitude and make this a habit. You will see, everyday the list of things to be grateful for will grow. In this journal make a neverending list of things you are grateful for. And start small, think of things you may easily take for granted. I also have a bowl at home in which I drop little notes of things that I am grateful for. When I am feeling not so grateful I pull out some of these notes to remind me and this instantly lifts my perspective. Set a time that works best for you to do this every day. Be it when you come home, in the subway, before going to bed, during a break at work. Just make it a daily habit.
Here are a few things on my gratitude list to inspire you: I am grateful for my loving and lovely friends, I am grateful for my health, I am grateful for my house, I am grateful for my job, I am grateful for myself, for my attitude, my strength, my love, I am grateful for you reading this, I am grateful for seeing the world awakening, I am grateful for my parents and all they have given me, I am grateful for the love I feel inside of me, I am grateful for all the beautiful people I meet, I am grateful for my stocked fridge full of nourish foods, I am grateful for the watercolor paints and pencils that bring me so much joy, I am grateful for the flowers on my desk, I am grateful for the beautiful colors of the Autumn leaves, I am grateful for all the opportunities I am given in life, I am grateful for all my guides and my higher self for always supporting me, I am grateful for loving me, I am grateful for Mother Earth, she is magnificent, I am grateful for my yoga practice, I am grateful for my gift or tarot reading and healing, I am grateful for the beauty of nature, I am grateful for being born in this country, I am grateful for music and art, I am grateful for seeing the wonder and magic. I am grateful for YOU…
Every day notice new things to be grateful for, it will become easier and easier.
And when you can’t find any inspiration glance back at memories from your life. Look back on social media such as Facebook or dust off the photo albums. You may find gratitude in those past moments or you may experience gratitude in recognizing how far you’ve come. Looking back helps you gain perspective.
Meditation & Yoga
Daily meditation and yoga are also great tools to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
This is what Yogi Bhajan said about gratitude:
“The attitude of gratitude is the highest way of living, and is the biggest truth, the highest truth. You cannot live with applied consciousness until you understand that you have to be grateful for what you have. If you are grateful for what you have, then Mother Nature will give you more.”
Meditation for Developing an Attitude of Gratitude
From A Woman’s Book on Meditation by Hari Kaur Khalsa
Posture: Sit in a comfortable posture, with a straight spine and neck.
Mudra: Cup your hands together as if you are gathering water from a stream and in this position, place them approximately 6 inches in front of your heart centre. Relax your arms at your side and feel every other part of your body relaxing and releasing.
Eyes and Mental Focus: In this posture, simply sit with your eyes closed and visualize all the blessings of your life falling into your cupped hands.
Breath: Breathe deeply and feel yourself merging with the light of all of those blessings.
Time: Continue for 3, 11 or 31 minutes (or however long it feels comfortable to do so).
P.S. The more you do any meditation, the deeper it becomes in the psyche. Hint, Hint—40 days!
The holiday season is beautiful but it also tends to be a stressful time and bring out the grouchiest in people. See if you can remain composed and centered. Give others a reason to feel gratitude and open yourself up to be non-judgemental and accepting. In this busy season find time to meditate, to relax, to tune in and to be of service, from your heart. From love.
In short gratitude brings more happiness and satisfaction.
Do you practice gratitude daily and if yes how? Please share if you like in the comments below.
Yours in gratitude,