The saying goes that ‘it’s not happy people who are thankful, but thankful people who are happy’.
Practicing gratitude daily helps us to remain grounded and appreciative of what we have in our lives. It gives us a greater sense of perspective when things go wrong and empowers us to feel more positive. Yet for all of its benefits, actively practicing gratitude is something most of us don’t do often enough.
Recently, I have found myself beyond grateful for the time I have spent practicing daily gratitude and mindfulness. We have had a few unfortunate circumstances arise in our lives in a short space of time that have been emotionally distressing, stressful and unnerving. It would have been so easy to think ‘why me?’ or ‘what have we done to deserve something this awful?’, but instead I found an underlying sense of calm and purpose in those moments. Although I was shaken, I was able to stand tall and strong in my belief that life is unpredictable and at times unfair. We cannot change what has been done, so we must make a non-judgemental space for our feelings to surface, accept the situation and trust that from it we can learn and evolve.
I first came across the notion of gratitude through guided meditation. Being asked to spend some time thinking about the things in my life for which I am grateful continues to be an interesting journey. Some days I am grateful for my flexible working arrangements that allow me to be a more hands-on step-parent and partner, other times I am grateful for my friends and family who are always there with love and support. The most touching times though are when I am most grateful for things like my sight, ability to walk and having a roof over my head – the things that we often take for granted.
Sometimes when we think about being grateful, the first things that spring to mind are materialistic. It’s important to know that that’s ok if it’s how you feel at the time, especially if you’ve worked hard to have them. However, I have also found that actively finding gratitude in our current situation, our health and abilities is a very humbling experience that reconnects us with our significance on this Earth.
There are a number of ways that people practice gratitude. Some dedicate a specific activity during the day such as brushing their teeth, while others may wish to be grateful during prayer or meditation. As someone whose schedule changes daily, I’ve personally found that having an app that prompts me to stop and be grateful is the most effective means of practicing daily gratitude.
I was very lucky that a friend gifted me the 5 Minute Journal app after feeling the benefits of it himself. The digital version of the popular journal prompts me morning and night to write three things for which I am grateful, asking me to set positive intentions for the day ahead and encouraging me to reflect upon the day, asking how it could have been even better. Rather than using it as an excuse to pick holes and be negative, I practice self-kindness and consider how I can be even stronger and happier tomorrow.
Being grateful shouldn’t be a chore, and so it is important that we find ways for it to work around our lifestyles. I’d love to hear how you practice gratitude in the comments below.
It seems only fitting that I should wrap up this blog post with some things for which I am grateful, so here is my list from today. I am grateful for the police and emergency service workers who give so much to keep us safe. I am grateful for my friends and family for their love, kindness and support. I am grateful that I can afford therapy, as this has transformed my way of thinking and opinion of myself. I am grateful for my partner and our family as love really is all you need. Finally, I am grateful for my computer and access to the internet, for without it I wouldn’t be able to write this blog post and share my thoughts on the benefits of practicing daily gratitude.
I hope you can find gratitude in elements of your life, regardless of whether it is momentous, materialistic or simply being gifted another day on this Earth.