I hear and read so much that tells me I should live in a state of gratitude.
Do a quick Facebook/Instagram/Youtube search, and one could be forgiven for thinking the whole world has this gratitude malarkey off pat. However, I know this is something that many of us (including me) have problems developing.
So what can I, or you, do to practice the state of gratitude?
How can we take the words of the gratitude gurus and use them in our everyday lives, and to what benefit?
I do know that working toward gratitude in your everyday experience is a practice. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
It takes time and effort – it’s not hard or difficult, but does take practice.
I suppose this is why most religions have some form of thanks or gratitude as one of their cornerstones practices – and how often do we see an unhappy Buddhist monk. Glib, I’ll admit, but true more often than not.
So what can we do to foster this seemingly intangible state of being in our daily lives?
Well here are just a few simple ideas that I think can help us start to shift our default grumpy, selves to a slightly lighter, more grateful state.
- Every morning jot down 3 things that you are grateful for. I think this is better done with a pen and paper, there is something that helps us connect more when we write (but at a push, your phone or tablet will suffice). They don’t have to be earth shattering things – your morning tea or coffee, next doors cat in the garden or the plant pot on the sill will do for starters.
- Every evening before bed jot down 3 things that were grateful for.
You enjoyed a lovely bath, the bus turned up on time, you smiled at someone on the bus/tube/road/insert whatever works for you, and they smiled back. It’s not earthshattering but it will focus your attention on appreciating the small stuff, and let’s face, life is made up of the small stuff.
- Think about an insignificant thing you do every day – brushing your teeth for example. Then think about all the amazing people that have been involved in bringing you that experience.
The people in the factory who make your tooth brush, the person who drives the delivery lorry, the people who work in the shop that sells you the brush…. you get the idea. When you really think about it, there are so many people to thank in that one small task.
The next time you say ‘thank-you’ to someone, actually mean it. We all do it ……’oh cheers for that, ta, thanks for that’ the words trip off our tongue so easily.
Sometimes we don’t even look up from what we are doing to make eye contact with the person we are thanking.
So become aware of how you say thank you, and give the phrase a bit more attention. You don’t need to go down the embarrassing over the top ‘thank-you’ that just makes the recipient feel uncomfortable. More, just say ‘thank-you’ with some meaning and a bit of eye contact, you might be surprised at the result.
I know that sometimes it can be a challenge to find things to feel truly grateful for, particularly when life gets tough, but if we run the gratitude marathon slowly, be gentle on ourselves and practice. We can begin to shift our default position from one of grumpy cynicism to one of gratitude. Perhaps not every second of every day – but certainly enough to ensure that it begin to live a more happy and contented life.