Gratitude is one of those things we’ve all heard about. It sounds good. It's like, sure, I know, I know, I should be thankful for all the things I have. I shouldn’t look down on my gifts or even the bare necessities for I am quite blessed to have even the most basic of needs. Still yet, I will find that some days I feel sorry for myself. I’ll sit and wonder, why? Why don’t I have this or that? Why can’t I do this or that? Why I am I this or that?
Well, maybe it’s really not a question of why. Maybe it’s not even a question. For me, a thankful heart is a wonderful thing to possess, it truly is, but gratitude frees me up. Gratitude is an action. An action that cultivates a type of joy that has been illusive for me.
This is what I know so far… gratitude lies in your perspective. I can literally, I mean literally, sit all day and think about me. My wants, my needs, and my problems. I will say, that absolutely no good comes from this. I have never done this for a day, and then magically, POOF!, I have a solution or better attitude. Never. One definition defines gratitude as “the quality of being thankful”; another reads “readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”. Hmm…so I don’t need to only feel thankful…I also need to show I am thankful then maybe I can start to know gratitude on a deeper level.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” -Melody Beattie
Quick Tips to Start Practicing Gratitude
1.) Realize the things that are good and beautiful in your life.
I know not everything is rainbows and munchkin kittens, but hey, there’s good everywhere, if you choose to see it.
2.) Show people you appreciate them.
Taking the time to value others always yields joy. Not in a “I will do something nice for you in hopes that you will do something for me” kind of way, but in a “no expectations” way. People know when your heart is genuine, and so do you. Kindness given freely without an expectation of return creates joy for all involved.
3.) Keep a journal
Write it all down. Writing these things down can over time can change the way we focus on certain things. Be specific and write new things every day. You will start to notice more and more the good things that surround you. On those harder days, you can read over things you have written to remind you of not only the things you wrote down, but even put you back in touch, if only briefly, with the emotions you felt when you were feeling more gratitude.
4.) Get out and do something that makes you feel good
Sometimes, whether it’s looking at a starry night, or a beautiful landscape, I will experience something new when I simply change the view. Something apart from my normal day-to-day routine. Sitting outside, playing with pets, and even drawing and painting give me a little break to shift my focus. Find what brings some joy into your life. Make time to do it at least a couple of times a week.
There are more ways to experience gratitude, but the most important thing to do, is to start. There are so many benefits of gratitude to the mind, body, and spirit. One thing I can promise, it will change you, not everything else, but you.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” -Wayne Dyer