Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation is a beautiful and powerful tool. Being grateful for the little things in our day can have a profound effect on the way we look at the big picture. When we focus on the things that make us truly happy in the now, an overall sense of wellbeing takes over us.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance”― Eckhart Tolle
Since the advent of positive psychology (also known as the science of happiness), a lot of research has been done on gratitude and how it can positively affect our mood (for the science nerds-or skeptics-, one of the numerous studies can be found here)
“Gratitude can lead to feelings of love, appreciation, generosity, and compassion, which further open our hearts and help rewire our brains to fire in more positive ways.” ― Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. (clinical psychologist).
So what is this gratitude thing anyway? If our life is not exactly awesome right now, how can we be grateful?
Right now, I am grateful:
- for you, who are reading this blog
- for my luscious cup of tea
- for the fact that today is a bank holiday
- for a facebook message from my friend back home
- for the laughs I shared with my family yesterday
- for the friends I have, near and far
- for the package I received in the mail from a friend
- for the lovely pink tulips on my coffee table
Being grateful does not mean that our day/life is problem free. Far from that. It just means that we are choosing to focus on and be mindful of the beautiful moments that make us smile. How big or small the happy moments are, is not important…actually, the smaller the better.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” ― Oprah Winfrey
This is also a way to move away from the common way of thinking “I will be happy when…”.
Years ago I used to tell myself that I would be happy once I moved to a new country and settled down. Well, guess what, when I did move 3 years ago, I didn´t particularly feel any happier. I mean the place is great and all, but I was disillusioned. I then picked up a new mantra: “I will be happy once I get a job and start working”. If I were still depending on achievements and the future to hold my happiness, well, I would be in limbo for a long time!
What changed? For starters, I started to practise being grateful in the now. The present moment is the only one that is available to us and in our grasp. The past is a memory, an image and the future illusory, speculative, utopian. So, I ask you, what are you grateful for, right here right now? What gives you pure joy, right now?
Here are some ways to practise gratitude daily (a gratitude ritual):
- Write in a gratitude journal each day. Write the things that made you happy on that day. Customise/Personalise your journal so it feels special for you. You can use a notebook or write a note on your phone, tablet, computer.
- Think of 3 things you are grateful for every morning/night. Do this just when you wake up or before you go to bed.
- Keep a gratitude jar.
- Use a social gratitude journal like happier.com or happify.com (there are many more resources too). Having a social gratitude journal has a plus of it being in an app where you can post pics of your happy moments and also have a community. No, this is not at all like Facebook. It is the anti-facebook.(positivity, inspiration, support, non judgement)
- You could involve your family or friends by doing your gratitude ritual together, like sharing things you are grateful for over dinner, in a daily text message or by scribbling on your family chalkboard! Get creative and play with it!
- Everytime you do a certain routine activity (like drink your morning coffee, turn off the lights, brush your teeth), think of 3 things you are grateful for.
- Mediate on the things you are grateful for. No, meditation does not mean you do not need to be in a loincloth, sit cross legged, have incense burning and be in a trance (unless that’s what you’re going for, then more power to you). Just close your eyes, take a few breaths and think of the all things that made you happy that day. Was it your morning coffee, hearing your favourite song, a yum meal, a warm shower? Just think of them and use all your senses to experience them in your mind and bring in the warm fuzzy feeling of pure joy.
If you have more fun ideas or would like to share your experience, do comment below!
I personally use a gratitude jar and the Happier app, a social gratitude journal to keep me grateful everyday and bring in some sunshine, even on gloomy days. I will talk about my experience with practising a gratitude ritual in another post!
Love, light and pixie dust,