12. Delving into Gratitude

In my December blog I explained how gratitude can bring a new attitude to your interactions with yourself and those around you. We all have the ability to shape our thoughts and these can be pleasurable or painful. The way we handle our interactions with others will also have an effect on us and affect the receiver of the interaction.

‘To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.’ – Oscar Wilde.

How do we cultivate a simple and achievable way to bring Gratitude into our daily lives?

As with all aspects of our lives we need to practice our gratitude muscles (yep, the brain and those wonderful neurons) to rewire the way we see, feel, interact and touch those around us, including ourselves. The more we practice gratitude the easier it becomes. This can lead us to an unlocking of ourselves, moving from a mode of just ‘doing’ to a mode of ‘being’.

The following ten tips are an outline of living with more gratitude, also incorporating some great  mindful techniques.

  1. Begin and end each day with gratitude. Use a journal or, if you have a family, consider using a gratitude jar. Each morning and evening, put in a note of the people, events or things for which you are grateful.
  2. Choose happiness. Check your thinking process. For example, what thoughts are going through your mind right now? Are they joyful? Are they happy? Or have you slipped into a repetitive practice of negativity?
  3. Take time to SLOW down. Rest, reflect and soak up and appreciate what is around you. By slowing down racing thoughts and getting rid of distractions (including your tablet/smart phone, TV) you are giving yourself time to stop and just be. We all function better when we appreciate what we have and where we are. SMELL those roses. Allow yourself to daydream.
  4. Say thank you to yourself (and others). Take the time to say thank you to yourself for your achievements, an experience, a learning, overcoming a challenge (or life lesson). By thanking ourselves and others we are giving and receiving a gift to ourselves and sending on a blessing to another person or group. It’s also a strong acknowledgement of gratitude.
  5. Reinforce your life vision and purpose each day. This creates depth to experiences through doing things you love and being surrounded by like-minded people who create a positive, supportive bond. You might consider writing out favourite quotes, creating an inspirational vision board and placing it where you see it daily.
  6. Daily affirmations. Affirmations are powerful statements of your truth. Take time to write down a positive statement or to speak it aloud, perhaps in front of a mirror. Repeat it as many times as necessary till you feel yourself letting go of any resistance to the statement. Letting the resistance go is the key and this helps the subconscious rewire for the positive statement.
  7. Live more mindfully. Work with the present moment and feel it encompass you. Allow yourself to be led by your senses and not the brain. For example, when walking to work take time to enjoy the colours of neighbours’ doors, or their gardens. Notice the smells in the air. What catches your eye? How does the fabric feel on your skin as you walk? What sounds have you noticed? Take time to focus on what’s around you instead of on your phone!
  8. Connect with nature. Each day try to connect to nature by having a walk in a park or going into your back yard. Feel the sun, wind, rain, grass and earth under your feet. Take time to notice something in nature. Maybe it’s a tree – take time to notice the trunk, its branches, how small or large it is, the texture of the bark, the colour of the leaves, whether the leaves are glossy or matt, rounded or sharp. You could do this with a flower, herb or anything that you choose. Consciously use all of your senses. By taking time to notice nature you are connecting to your surrounds and becoming aware that seasons change, light moves and so do you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your beauty might be bright colourful flowers, heavenly scented roses, a brilliant sunset, the twinkling stars, the gentle drone of the bees buzzing as they collect pollen or just gazing into your pet’s eyes. Jot down your observations in your journal, including how you felt while doing this.
  9. Create your own beautiful world.  Our own environment reflects our inner nature and allows for dreams and ideals. Take time to look at what you have around you both at home and work. Does it inspire or is it dire? Love and respect your spaces (both home and work) through building a space that inspires you! This may be through uplifting colour choices, furniture that enlivens your spirit, pottery or photographs, indoor plants and maybe even just clearing your desk at the end of the day.
  10. Love yourself. Take time to be truly grateful for who you are and all that you can be. There is no vanity in this one. Acknowledge yourself and choose to praise yourself for all your achievements, large and small. This is actively choosing praise over criticism, seeing yourself as a good person and trying to do your best in a given moment. If you catch negative self-talk creeping in, greet it, say thank you for coming (as a reminder of what was) and choose a positive reply to those unwanted words. By choosing positivity, confidence and self-support you are creating a form of self-love that will help to heal and transform your life.

Remember each day is a new opportunity to explore your creativity and celebrate life. Learning to love your own uniqueness makes you lovable and unforgettable. Being grateful for and living with this uniqueness allows each of us to learn to love ourselves more deeply.

Finding gratitude in our current world can be difficult. Many of us overanalyse emotions or are too distracted to notice what is being done for us or what we do to others. Some may feel that gratitude is like the green kale smoothie of emotions: you know it’s good for you but it’s not particularly appetising. Indeed, gratitude can sometimes feel banal, forced or even like a chore. If this happens, then we can lose its benefits.

For me, gratitude is about perspective on given situations. If I take time to stand back, look and then journal about a situation or event then I can see more clearly my reactions and emotions. I can more easily accept my part in the larger picture. I might get into gritty details but reflecting on what has occurred allows me processing time and gratitude to let go, move forward and learn from each difficult situation. Sometimes gratitude is very easy. When I dog sit I just enjoy the fun of walking, playing, giving treats for good behaviour, having cuddles on the sofa and stroking the dogs fur. She has beautiful big, brown eyes that give out unconditional love and she loves giving plenty of kisses (which is not so great after she has been rolling in muck or eating something unsavoury!).

Author Megan C Hayes, Write Yourself Happy – The Art of Positive Journalling, says this about gratitude:

“You might like to think of practising gratitude as lifting the tablecloth of any given moment and inspecting the table legs underneath, noting the pillars that support everything you take for granted. What do you see when you lift the tablecloth?” – Megan C Hayes

Time to Have a Go!

This month have a go with the attached Gratitude with Attitude.  Each day, take time to journal all the reasons why you are grateful for the activity, person, event, walk, etc.