Cultivating gratitude for happiness
A wonderful skill to cultivate to help make you happy
I sometimes think that the value, importance and role of gratitude in living well has lost out to the modern notion of self-directed living and that we are the masters and creators of our own universe
I do not personally think that I can exist without the power, creation and love of others.
To be grateful is to be thankful and to acknowledge and make known your thanks.
We can be thankful each day to our higher power, to God, to the universe, to our lover, family, partner, husband wife, children, our employer/employees, doctor, nurse, therapist, neighbour, friend and whoever and whatever.
Today I am grateful for my daughter Hazel who has just gone to Mexico to volunteer to teach English to children in a school/orphanage for one year. I am also grateful for my good health that allows me to go hillwalking in Wicklow with my wonderful Partner. We enjoyed the sun and spectacular views and I am grateful for that.
Practising gratitude is being able to appreciate what we have in life rather than focusing on what we do not have. Being able to be grateful the small things in our life and tuning into our senses can bring us much joy. Try to tune into the smell of a flower, the calmness and tranquility of a nice cup of tea, the sound of the birds singing in the morning. When you go outside, appreciate the leaves on trees, the feel of the ground under our feet, the sun on our faces. Be grateful for the joys of being alive and being human.
Tips to help you practice gratitude:
- Say thanks: Everyday become aware of people you can say thank you to. Show your appreciation of them by acknowledging them with your thanks. Tell them the positive thing or things they have done that you appreciate. Sharing a positive word of encouragement to someone is a powerful way to connect with people and you will receive back that wave of connection. Notice how you feel when someone thanks you sincerely and shows you that you are being appreciated.
- Gratitude Journal: I have found using a gratitude journal is a great way to focus on what is good in my life. I started this after my marriage ended and there were many other storms in my life at that time. I felt like I was in a tsunami of disaster and crises and could not see how things would turn out all right. My friend gave me a beautiful blank page notebook with a note to say that it was for a gratitude journal and to write something in it every night – something I was grateful for. It took real persistence and effort to find things I could be grateful for but it focused me on survival and on picking out events/people/feelings/aspects of the day that were still present and positive in my life. After some time, I realised that my gratitude list was getting easier and also longer. Store this magical book in a safe place and when you have a bad day you an open a page to remind yourself of people and things you can be grateful for.
Gratitude is a housekeeping tool of the mind. It helps the mind to focus on the positive and to be aware of the good in life. To affirm the flow of the world and to bring the mind back to associate good feelings with the acknowledgment of happy events, memories etc.
When life brings troubles and storms, and it will, the mind that practices gratitude in the good times can switch from focusing on the negative to the positive. We all know someone who in troubled times is able to say “it’s not so bad, I can get through this – this is a life lesson”. We can be one of those people by practising gratitude.
Take care of yourself and take care to notice the good in your life!