It is so easy to forget how blessed and fortunate we are. I think it is human nature for us to focus on what we ‘don’t have’ rather than focusing on what we do have. We get distracted by other people’s lives and what other people have or have achieved and we start using their accomplishments as a benchmark to measure our own success. It is a dangerous thing to do because ultimately making comparisons doesn’t help us in our journey to self fulfillment.
Ever heard the saying ‘Count your blessings’? My parents used to say it to me all the time but it didn’t really sink in, not until I went travelling the world in my late teens/early 20s and realised how big and vast our planet is. The exposure as to how other people less fortunate than me lived their lives with the bare minimum, was eye opening. They were grateful for the little things we generally take for granted, like running water, shoes, a roof over our heads, food. They weren’t focused on having the latest fashion wear or the latest gadget. It really gives you a reality check because the people with very little possessions have the biggest hearts and such joyful spirits. Why? Because they are grateful with what they have. They don’t focus on what they don’t have.
That’s the problem with today’s society, so many of us don’t take a pause of reflection to count our blessings, instead we live life so fast paced we hardly take the time to stop and smell the roses. How many of you take 10 minutes of your day to give thanks for what you have? I asked this question at work and many of the answers sounded something like this: ‘I barely have time to have lunch let alone sit and think about what I have’, ‘Oh I cant do that, it’s hard to find a moment to yourself when you have kids’ or even ‘What kind of nonsense is this? That sounds stupid’.
While I understand in today’s society we all feel the pressures of success and earning good money, how many of us can say that they are genuinely happy? This doesn’t mean that you feel happy 100% of the time, we are all human and we will have bad days, but rather what I mean is how many of us focus on what we have rather than what we feel we are missing or lacking in life? Studies have shown by practising gratitude and incorporating it into your everyday life, it can positively rewire your brain and even make you a happier person.
So as the holiday season comes upon us, people will practise gratitude for a day or two (over Thanksgiving or Christmas) and more than likely that’s where it will end.
The million dollar question is how do you bring that dedicated time for reflection into your life beyond the holiday season? Like any skill, the art of gratitude requires practise. Here are my 3 ways to adopt a daily gratitude practise routine:
1. Acknowledge what you’re grateful for every day
This is all about focusing on what you have rather than what you feel is missing or lacking in your life. I do this by allocating half hour of my time every day to pause and reflect on what I am grateful for that day. Notice your day to day world from a point of gratitude and you will be amazed of all the good things we take for granted. Holding a gratitude journal really helps me because while you can say what you’re grateful for each day, there’s something about putting words to paper. It is more real and cannot be erased or forgotten. If you are having a bad day and cannot seem to get your mind to stop thinking negatively, you can open your gratitude journal and remind yourself of all the wonderful things you are grateful for. Speaking from personal experience, this really helps you gain perspective.
As Dr Robert Emmons gracefully puts it “The awareness of what we’re grateful for can lesson our tendency to want more all of the time”.
Recognise what you are grateful for, acknowledge it and appreciate it.
2. Surround yourself with like minded people
If there was ever a time to re-evaluate the people you surround yourself with, now is the time to do it. In order to attract positive energy you need to ensure your environment attracts the same energy. If your company is riddled with negativity, ungratefulness and pessimists well I’m sorry but that kind of energy is not going to compliment yours or encourage you to reach self-actualisation.
This doesn’t mean that we should distance ourselves from people who are having a bad day. We are all human and we are not always going to feel positive or happy every single day of our lives, that’s just human nature. I am targeting those people who are pessimistic and negative every single day and who cannot find joy in even the smallest thing. We all know at least one person like that.
Surround yourself with people who are positive and who incorporate gratitude and happiness in their lives. I have a select few friends who I like to engage with but I also like to seek other like minded people especially on social media (trust me there are a lot of us out there!) , their positive posts and affirmations can really affect you in such a good way. What you attract, you become.
3. Appreciate yourself
This is a big one. How many of us compare ourselves to other people and focus on their successes and achievements? How many of us actually apply all that energy onto ourselves? Not many.
Why? Why is it human nature for us to focus on other people and yet when it comes to ourselves, we don’t give ourselves enough credit? Happiness and gratitude comes from within. We must apply it in our own lives before we can successfully embark on incorporating gratitude into our daily lives. Start with yourself and be good to yourself. Celebrate your successes, regardless whether they are big or small, celebrate it and shout it from the rooftop and write them all down. You earned that and you deserve to be recognised for your achievements.
I have always been a spiritual person so gratitude plays an immense role in my own journey. Ultimately I believe this is the path to a fulfilled life. Not everyone is spiritual but by just incorporating the above 3 steps into your daily life you will begin to shift your perspective and you’ll harness your inner energy to rewire your brain to focus on the goodness of your life. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and expect to see results straightaway, like all skills, this can take some time but once you see results it is all very much worth it.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson