I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. I suppose it’s because I’ve been feeling it more in my life. When I was working in my last corporate role I barely had time to think, let alone feel. I was so caught up in doing and achieving what I thought were important goals that I lost sight of the bigger picture. I would wake up stressed thinking of the day ahead, be stressed at work and then go home feeling like I still hadn’t done enough. It was a relentless cycle which I’m sure lots of other people are experiencing right now. I was fortunate though to be given the opportunity to get out of this pattern and for me that’s the thing that I am most grateful for at the moment. If you had told me whilst I was still working that this could be my life I’m not sure I would have taken it as I was so focused on the many things that I thought I needed in life to be successful. However hindsight is a wonderful thing and I’m glad that the universe had bigger plans for me.
So as I mentioned my life is very different to what it was earlier in the year. I wake up grateful that I can direct my life as I wish and that there’s no one’s schedule to follow but my own. I’m exciting about the things that I’m creating in my life and I have to say I’ve never felt more alive and full of energy. I used to think that it would be the big things that mattered for example, having my own home, having a partner, children etc. Well these things are important and although I don’t have all these things, having my own home does give me comfort and joy. But I think having had the time to take a step back and look at life, I realise how much we have to be grateful for everyday and a lot of the time these things aren’t necessarily huge or even material. When I am able to be present I think how wonderful it is that I can breathe without thinking about it, that my body functions automatically without me needing to do anything except pay good attention to it. And then I’ll be walking down the street and see someone limping and think how lucky it is that I can walk easily without any impediments. And then passing by a homeless person and realising how fortunate I am to have a warm place to sleep each night. This is not meant to be a lesson as such but I suppose it’s a reminder of how much goodness there is in life even when we don’t have the things we think we want. That every situation has its own blessing if we choose to look at it in a different way. I could choose to stay focused on the things that I’m lacking (and trust me I have my moments) but when I can remember to think about all that I have in my life I feel a genuine warmth and burst of love in my heart that can’t be replicated with a drink, pill etc
Nothing seems to stop gratitude more than being anywhere but here in the now. When we can let go of everything except for what we have in this moment, something pretty special happens. We notice the things around us and for a brief moment appreciate what is there in front of us whether it’s a hug from a loved one, that first cup of tea or coffee in the morning when everyone else is asleep or the warmth of the sun on your face… There’s just so much beauty in the world if we only give ourselves the opportunity to experience it.
Apart from feeling great when you experience gratitude it’s also good for your body, energy and giving yourself a break from the constant pressures that you put yourself under. And many people report that once they’re in that cycle of feeling grateful for their lives this seems to attract even more of the good things that they want. Perhaps this is because in this state, we can let go of the desires of our mind (which aren’t always things that are good for us) and let the desires of the heart take centre stage. So what is your practice? And if you don’t have one already, what could be your practice? For some it’s writing daily in a gratitude journal and for others it’s as simple as taking a slow walk through nature paying attention to their surroundings and appreciating what is there in front of them. There are so many different ways to make this a part of your life so why not give it a try. If you’re up for an experiment, there’s a book by Pamela Grout called Thank and Grow Rich which outlines a process that you can undertake for 30 days. The intention is that you write 3 things daily that you’re grateful for and see the impact that this has on your life. I tried the experiment last year and found it an enjoyable exercise and it is pretty amazing that when you focus on the good things in life, life somehow feels a whole lot better.