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Gratitude for Our Wonderful Lives

November 3, 2014

 

Boosting happiness is easy when we take the time to be grateful for what we already have.

 

Life is Messy – Be Where We Are

Generally, our transitions in life improve or change many aspects around us – homes, friends, food, work, play. We haven’t always had the same knowledge, skills, house, job, friends or motivations.

It’s very easy to forget all the little steps we’ve taken in life that brought us to where we are now.

If everyone remembered how we started out in life – as small helpless children who needed help with everything – then we would appreciate a whole lot more of what goes on around us.

Good things take time and effort so it’s important to appreciate the journey as well as the destination.

We live in a fast paced world where people can drive through a restaurant ordering and receiving food within minutes. We often have a major disconnect with the energy we use to fuel our bodies. Some drivers honk when something on the road obstructs them for a few seconds. We often don’t think about others along our travels and the journey they are taking. Often passengers run to catch trains or buses because they can’t bear to wait for the next departure.

We often think that our lives are short rather than viewing time like the philosopher Seneca thinking “life is long if you know how to use it“.

 

Girl relaxing by a lake living in the present

Take a deep breath. Appreciate this moment of being here and now. We’re lucky to be here.

 

The Present of Here & Now

It’s all too easy to slip into a mindset of entitlement. Dissatisfaction can creep up quickly if we expect wonderful things to fall into our laps without being happy with what we already have.

If we’re too focused on looking forward at what’s next, we can easily forget how great we have it now. Same situation when looking to the past – if we’re busy thinking about something we used to have, it makes it hard to be present to appreciate what we have now.

And there are plenty of things to be thankful for every single day.

Being grateful can not only improve our outlook of life, gratitude can improve relationships and work-spaces too. People are more motivated to be even nicer to each other when others express their gratitude and show appreciation.

 

The More We’re Grateful For

We become what we focus on. We become what we think about most often as thoughts create habits which create lifestyles. If we focus on the things that we love and appreciate and that are improving in our lives, we’ll get more of them. If we’re focused on all that’s going wrong in our lives, we’ll no doubt notice even more things that aren’t the best.

The wonderful Oprah said that when we spend time being grateful for things in our lives, we’ll realise that we have more things to be grateful for. Being grateful for all the wonderful things we have in life will simply create more marvelous things.

 

Be thankful for what you have and you'll always have more quote by Pprah wWnfrey

Count blessings. Start with the simple pleasures. Your breath. Your sight. Your senses. Your home. Your family and friends. Your comprehension.

 

Hand on Heart – Prayers & Affirmations

Affirmations are simple phrases we can repeat and after time our brains align with these phrases. We can easily use affirmations to improve our gratitude.

Ever since I read Marianne Williamson’s book The Gift of Change, I say my prayers of thanks aloud. I’m not religious or strict with this routine – some days I don’t say them and I express my gratitude in other ways too but this is a simple and easy way to integrate a gratitude practice in daily life. I simply say what I’m grateful for aloud.

Either before or after I have some quiet time calming my mind, I say aloud all the things I’m grateful for that day.

Marianne is a very insightful woman and is regarded as a spiritual leader. I found reading Marianne’s book very insightful and I reviewed The Gifts of Change here for the blog. Her books share many insights about how we should live from a place of love and she gives examples of different prayers and affirmations that she uses in her own life.

Once we start expressing gratitude, the tricky part is knowing where to end the gratitude practice. I start with being thankful for the place I’m in, the people who are dear to me and the everyday normal privileges that I sometimes take for granted e.g. having a space of my own, all the clothes I could ever need, fresh food, and so on.

It’s very easy to become more humble when we use an attitude of gratitude to acknowledge all the things that we have.

Some people enjoy resting in a particular pose when expressing gratitude. For relaxation, placing a hand over our heart and focusing on our breathing is known to calm the body. Putting our hands into a prayer position can help to connect with ourselves and the universe.  One of the first postures most yoga students learn is to sit cross legged with our hands in prayer position with our thumbs resting on our heart. This position is called Anjali Mudra and is used to express gratitude and is known to clam the body and mind.

 

woman with hand on her heart

Whenever we need to reconnect with ourselves or the universe, we can place our hand on our heart. Feeling our heart beat as we breathe is very relaxing and creates a feeling of purpose.

 

Manners & Appreciation

My mother always said that “manners don’t cost anything” to which my brother and I’ve interpreted into, “it’s best to be thankful for what we get because you could be getting nothing”. So from an early age, I’ve always thanked people for whatever they’ve shared, given or done with me. Sometimes I do end up over-thanking and slightly annoying my loved ones if I continue to express my gratitude, but they understand I want them to know I definitely appreciate them and what they do for me. It’s much better for people to know that we love and appreciate them rather than leaving them guessing.

I have a friend who used a gratitude journal whenever she was feeling low. She’d sit with the feeling to discover why she was feeling that way, then she wrote at least five things that she was thankful for in her life. Those five things helped her to feel better and more grateful for what was going on around her. After some time, my friend realised that gratitude can be exponentially wonderful if we practice it when we’re feeling happy as well as happiness only grows with appreciation.

 

A Couple of Things a Day

Gratitude is as simple as thinking of, discussing with a loved one or, more powerfully, writing down around five things that we’re grateful for that day. It could be one or ten things – it’s totally up to you. The Top Five Movement challenges people to write down five things that made our day awesome. The creator of the movement has an inspiring TEDx talk. The process of writing five things help us to be happier, healthier, more driven and more satisfied with our lives.

The act of writing down what we’re grateful for helps to solidify the ideas that our lives have so many valuable elements both inside and outside of ourselves.

The points of gratitude can be extremely simple things. A refreshing glass of water you. The feeling the sun on skin. Having lunch with a friend. Getting to work on time.

Take some time now to express heartfelt gratitude for something in your wonderful life. I’m thankful you’ve read to this point of Wholesome Road. Feel free to share your reflections of the post below, in email or on social media.

 

Reflections

  • Do you spend time appreciating what you have?
  • How do you use gratitude in your daily life?
  • Do you use prayer or affirmations?

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