“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.”
– Germany Kent
Gratitude comes up often when discussing the path to happiness and inner peace, and it is clear to see why. Gratitude – the state of being grateful – comes from a place of abundance; a place in which we are content with what we have. Being satisfied with that which we already have, whether such things are material or abstract, brings about peace as it means we want for nothing.
Wait… Does that mean you can’t want anything!? Ever again?!?
Of course not! You are bound to have certain desires, and it is perfectly okay to manifest those things, as long as you are practicing gratitude and not just acquiring things for the sake of having them. Don’t go buying things willy-nilly. Get what you need, treat yourself when it is appropriate, but recognise what you already have.
This isn’t just about material items either. The abundance mindset can translate into the abstract. While manifesting your perfect partner, dream job, or ideal life is a positive action, it is important that we recognise the good things in our life that we might take for granted. If you are desperate for a romantic partner, you may ignore the other relationships in your life that are just as valuable. It is important that we notice the love we already have, whether it is from family, friends, a pet, or ourselves.
In fact, the value of gratitude is so notable, that numerous universities have conducted research to study the impact of gratitude on happiness, health, and overall well-being.
Being grateful can be as simple as appreciating the things around you. It can be something as commonplace as enjoying that first sip of coffee in morning, or a large scale blessing like good health or a happy relationship. Being mindful of the things that the universe provides is integral to gratitude.
Practicing mindfulness allows us to take stock of both our physical and ethereal realm, taking note of things through our senses. We can feel the soft grass beneath our bare feet and be thankful for the earth below, the sun above, the rain, the worms, and all the other components that helped create in us a sense of peace. We can hear the pitter patter of paws when we enter our homes and see the joy our pets experience upon having us return. We can see the sunrise – that stunning kaleidoscope of colour – and be thankful that the universe has given us another day.
Of course, we may not see the sunrise every morning, but we know that it is there and can still appreciate it. We take every day as a given, for ourselves and our loved ones, but life is something we simply can not take for granted! Rather, we should encourage ourselves to notice and appreciate the people, places, feeling, and things that bring us joy.
How Can I Practice Gratitude?
While it can feel difficult for some to shift their mindset from one of “I want” to one of “I have”, there are plenty of exercises you can do to train your brain and remind yourself what gifts you have been given in life. The following suggestions should get your brain and soul revved up and ready to give thanks and appreciate the little things we otherwise might turn a blind eye to on a daily basis.
1.Write a Gratitude List
Write a list of things that you are grateful for. It can be as long or short a list as you like. You can do this every day or whenever your mindset needs a little boost in positivity. Change it up each time to keep your mind and your heart focused on all the wonderful things life has to offer.
Remember: it doesn’t matter how big or small, as long as it brings you real joy. Give thanks for your health, happiness, and success today, and tomorrow, be thankful for your favourite of coffee mug. Heck, you can even thank gravity for keeping us planted firmly on the planet! Get creative, mix it up, and write it down!
2. Daily Thanks
Start and end each day with gratitude!
When you wake up, begin your day by listing three things you are thankful for. You can keep a gratitude journal and write it down, or simply list them in your mind. Starting your day with positive thoughts and recognising your abundance is a big step in manifesting more of the same! As you put the positive energy out into the universe, positive energy will return to you, in a quantum dance of like-attracts-like.
At the end of the day, list three things once again. A great way to acknowledge the good in your life is to reflect on the day itself and notice what made your soul sing. What brought you excitement? What brought you joy? When were you most at peace?
It doesn’t have to be a specific list each and every time. You can be as regimented or as random as you like. Maybe you are grateful for three exact moments of your day, or maybe you’re thankful for the support of your friends and family, your own determination and perseverance in the face of adversary, and your fuzzy slippers! It doesn’t have to be categorised and it doesn’t have to be be grand or dramatic. It isn’t about that! It’s all about recognised our blessings.
3. The Joy of Others
“Thank you is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”
Think of the people you are thankful for. There must be a few who come to mind, whether they are someone very close to you or a barista at your favourite coffee shop. You may think first of your friends and family, but also consider all the strangers that make our lives easier, like the bin men, grocers, and bus drivers. Mentally thank them for the joy and the service that they provide to you.
Want to take it a step further? Actually thank those who you appreciate. Write a thank your note, call up that friend who always has your back, or thank the shop keep at your local store. You can even make a habit of thanking one person everyday for whom you are grateful. It’s bound to make their day, and that positive energy will come right back at you!
4. Internal Gratitude
What is something you appreciate about yourself? Everyone has their own special gifts and talents that make them special. Turning your gratitude inward builds self-love; a key in living a content life.
That being said, some of us do struggle with insecurities or a lack confidence, which can make self-gratitude more difficult. But, as I’ve said, everyone has gifts! It doesn’t have to be something extravagant like a glorious voice or Mensa membership. Are you a good listener? A loyal friend? A provider? Are you kind? Do you give the best hugs? Whatever your gift, it is invaluable to the universe!
If you are really struggling to come up wth something, start with thanking your body. Thank your heart for pumping blood through your veins, your eyes for allowing you to see sunbeams dancing through the trees, the intricate collaboration between bone and muscle, cells, and energy that allows you to smile or pet a dog. These are all things to be grateful for, and they are a part of you!
5. Feel It
A big secret to gratitude? Embodying that feeling! Rather than just stating what you are grateful for, it’s important to really feel it. I mean really feeling “The Feels”. It’s more than just a matter of saying “thank you”. It’s a whole process of thought and emotion and energy, coming together to create something almost indescribable.
Pay attention to you body. How does gratitude feel on a physical level? What pathways does it take through your body? What sensations do you notice? Feel the energies at play. Observing and reflecting on gratitude through your senses brings it to the forefront, allowing your mind to recognise the feelings.
As you become more aware of the physical attributes of gratitude, consider as well the mental aspects. Which words cross your mind as the feeling of appreciated washes over you? What thoughts arise when giving thanks? Meditate on it. Use the tools that the universe provides to understand how gratefulness affects your body and mind.
And of course, feel gratitude on a soul level. Reach into the deepest parts of your heart and take note of the emotional response to gratitude. How does it affect your happiness? How does it affect your energy? Consider the emotions and energies and build upon them.
Be intentional! By embodying gratitude on all levels of being, it grows beyond a feeling and becomes a way of life.
Gratitude is more than just a feeling of appreciation; it’s a state of mind. When we incorporate gratitude into our lives, we recognise and welcome the abundance that comes with it. A plentiful life includes plenty of thanks for what we already have, and all that we receive, on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Yes, we are allowed to want, but it’s important to remember: the grass isn’t greener on the other side; its greener where we water it!
Want some more ideas on peaceful practices and exercises to encourage a grateful mindset? Check out my book Making Waves for a collection of musings, reflections, stories, and exercises to guide you on the path towards joy.