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What does being grateful really mean?
Gratitude is the feeling we have when we experience and reflect upon something that is of value to us. This could be something which is given to us or simply a feeling which spontaneously rises in our heart when we recognise the love and blessings in our life.
Why is it important to be grateful?
Gratitude is the basis of everything. Being grateful…
All emotions stem from either love or fear. Gratitude or appreciation is of the same vibration as love, therefore when you feel grateful it makes it harder to feel distress, anxiety or any other negative emotion. Try it; think of a stressor in your life, and just sit with it for a moment. Notice what this feels like in your mind and in your body. Now think of something which you are really grateful for, and completely focus your attention upon it. Notice the shift not only in your thinking, but also in how you feel. In this way, gratitude helps further to create a more positive mindset, meaning that you are more likely to seek solutions and opportunities as opposed to giving up.
*Makes you happier:
Many of us have been led to believe that when you are happy then you are grateful. However if this were to be the case, then why are there so many people who have everything that it would take to be happy, but they are not happy? And why are there people who have very little or much misfortune, but whom radiate happiness. Why? Because they are grateful. If you’ve been to some 3rd world countries you would have seen people with very little with glowing smiles on their faces. So it is not happiness that makes us grateful, its gratefulness that makes us happy. If you want to be happy in life, then you must be grateful.
*Helps you to live life to the fullest:
When we don’t feel grateful, through our dissatisfaction we close off to and miss out on all of the good things life has to offer. In contrast, when we open our hearts and become more grateful, then we are able to experience all of the joy and gifts available to us in each and every moment, and in this way we are able to live our life to the fullest.
*Helps you to focus on what’s really important:
‘To be content with what we possess is the greatest and most secure of riches.’ Marcus Tullius Cicero
The more you practice gratitude, the more ‘content’ you become and the more you come to understand that what you really need to fulfil yourself has very little to do with the external world. In this way, gratitude helps to free yourself from having to be, do or have anything in particular – and with it much of the stress caused by chasing all things external. This doesn’t mean that you will sell all of your possessions and shift to Byron Bay. It simply means that instead of being fixated on and ‘wanting’ all of the ‘unnecessary stuff,’ you will instead by your very nature, find yourself desiring to live a much ‘simpler’ life. A life which allows more time and energy to adopt positive lifestyle behaviours, and restore balance and well-being.
*Helps you to be the best version of yourself:
Gratitude helps to deepen the connection with your authentic self by helping you to like and even love yourself more. This allows you to become more focused, more calm, more resilient, more motivated, more compassionate and much more. In short, gratitude helps you to become the best version of yourself.
How do we become more grateful?
*Don’t compare yourself with others – Your journey is your own:
In today’s consumer culture, it’s easy to compare ourselves with others whom we think have more than ourselves, which if we permit can leave us feeling less grateful and pretty low. Social media has taken this to another level, with numerous applications becoming an omnipresent force of comparison. The result being less gratitude and decreased happiness. What’s important to realise is that what most people post on social media is often only the best parts of their life, and not the chaotic stuff that goes on behind the scenes. No one’s life is ever really perfect. Hence the name ‘Fakebook.’
‘Your perspective on gratitude needs to come from an awakened heart that beats to the drum of your experience. When this happens you will be overwhelmed with all of your blessings.’ Anna Greco
It’s also important not to compare yourself against anyone or anything else, because your life and your journey is unique to you. It may seem that others may have more to be grateful for and sometimes they do, but that is their journey, not yours. We each have according to our own dharma, our path, and our choices, and the more we focus on our own journey instead of everyone else’s, the more blessings we can be thankful for.
It’s also useful to turn on the news once in a while to remind yourself of just how fortunate you really are compared too much of the world. There are always people out there with less than you, which is another reason to count your blessings. Which takes me on to the next point;
*Focus on what you do have:
The reality is that most of us have so much to be grateful for, much of which we often don’t appreciate until we lose them. So focus on what you do have, including your senses – your ability to hear, see, touch, taste, and feel. For your ability to walk, talk, love, laugh, play. For the fact that you live in Australia and not North Korea or Syria, for your freedom, your ability to travel, your education, your job, your shower this morning, your bed, your food, clean water, fresh air, your clothes, your heater, the internet, for electricity – much of the world lives in darkness, for your friends and family, your pets, the earth, all of the amazing animals, and so much more.
Essentially for life itself, because life truly is a gift. And this is the real secret. Once you acknowledge that life really is so precious, then you automatically become grateful for your ability to experience life itself and everything in it. So be grateful, and celebrate life every day, not just on your birthday because every moment is precious.
*Look after your mind and your body:
Gratitude first and foremost starts with you, meaning that if you feel good about yourself, then you will feel good about life. In order to feel grateful, you need to really look after yourself by engaging in positive lifestyle behaviours such as regular exercise, healthy eating, sufficient sleep, and everything else I talk about in this blogspace. If you don’t do one of these things, then it is easy to fall out of balance, and lose gratitude.
*Remind yourself to be grateful:
Simply become aware of, and remind yourself of even one thing in your life which you are grateful for. You can find more things to be grateful for once you get into this habit.
You can write this down in a journal, or on a wall calendar where you will see it. By the end of the month you will see that you have much to be grateful for. Or if you prefer not to write it down then just say it to yourself when you’re in the shower or when you go to bed. It’s a good idea to vocalise your gratitude as it helps those around us become more grateful too.
*Change your language:
The whole idea here is to infuse everything you say with a deep sense of Gratitude instead of speaking from a place of compulsion. And we can do this by simply reframing the things we often say. For example, ‘I have to go to the gym’ (burden) ‘I get to go to the gym’ (privilege). Or ‘I have to go to work’ vs ‘I get to go to work.’
We smile when we are content and happy with our situation – the more we smile the more grateful we become. Don’t underestimate the power of a smile.
*Always look for the opportunities:
Life can be really hard and even unfair sometimes, and when this happens it can be difficult to feel grateful. This is ok, because we cannot be grateful for everything, including things like violence or exploitation. Instead, what we need to do when we are confronted with things which are very difficult, is to rise to this occasion and respond to the opportunity which is given to us in that given moment. And we can rise to it by often learning something which is sometimes painful. To learn, to suffer, to stand up, all of these are opportunities that are given to us and the more we avail ourselves to these opportunities, the more we are able to make something out of life. Simply open your heart do whatever the opportunity invites you to do – which mostly is the opportunity to enjoy life. This is the real challenge for each of us – to find the opportunities that exist in the present moment, instead of being dragged back into the past and becoming a victim. This is a cup half-full mentality which is not only a key towards remaining grateful, but it’s also the key to being more resilient too.
Gratitude has a positive effect on every area of your life. Don’t wait to count your blessings for if you do you will miss them and you will miss the present that is given to you in every moment of this journey called life. Instead make the time to stop and smell the roses, and be grateful for all that you have in your life each and every day.
What are you most grateful for in your life and why?
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