So, what are you grateful for in this moment? Close your eyes and think for a minute.
Let me tell you a little anecdote from last year.
A little girl in my neighborhood visited our home to meet the kitten we had just adopted. I gave her chocolate my aunt had brought me from New Zealand. Now this girl, just 7 years old, with almost no idea what the world and the people in it expect from you when they give things to you, went to my room, asked for a paper and pen, asked me how to spell my name and then innocently asked me how to spell New Zealand, came out after a few minutes and handed me this most amazing thing- A THANK YOU NOTE.
With her broken English and misspelt words, she thanked me for the chocolate in the most unexpected way. Don’t forget, she was just 7 years old. I still have that note and it’s the most amazing and cherished possession of mine. It made me unbelievably happy, more than anything ever could.
Have you ever done that for someone? Have you thanked anyone for the littlest joys, like a bar of chocolate in, such a genuine manner?
I do and I learned this important lesson from this little sweet girl.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion. Being thankful can transform your life. It shifts your perspective and helps you find the good in each and every moment.
Let’s start with the basics. Do you know that the odds of being born 1 in 400 trillion? YES, it’s THAT difficult to be born in this world.
Were you thankful for being alive when you opened your eyes this morning?
Or when you had the fulfilling breakfast, or when you hugged your parents/ spouse/ children goodbye and left home, or when you arrived at the office and did your job (an option that so many of us don’t have any more) or when you got home and your toddler came running to you, or when you enjoyed dinner with your family, or when you finally hit the pillow and closed your eyes for a goodnight’s sleep?
Let’s sum it up in just one question:
Are you a grateful person?
If yes, you’ll enjoy reading what’s coming and if not, then read on and I promise that you will be one by the time you reach the end.
The connection between Happiness and Gratefulness
When you are happy, you are grateful. But think again. Is it really the happy people who are grateful? We all know quite a number of people who have everything that it would take to be happy, and yet they are not happy, because they want something else or they want more of the same.
And we all know people who have lots of misfortune, misfortunes that we ourselves would not want to have, and they are deeply happy. They radiate happiness.
You are surprised. Why? There is a simple explanation- Because they are grateful. So it is not happiness that makes us grateful. It’s gratefulness that makes us happy. So if you actually want to be happy then start saying thank you.
Allow me to talk to the logical side of you. Have you heard of the LAW of attraction?
Two psychologists, Dr Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.
- One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week.
- A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them.
- The third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).
After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.
Have you guessed the secret yet?
And no matter what age you are, it works the same way for everyone. For all you parents out there, this is what gratitude does for your child:
- Improves physical health and energy levels
Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and are healthier and also more likely to take care of themselves. If you are or have an anxious child, writing in a gratitude journal can reduce blood pressure by 10%.
- Improves your mental health
Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, including envy, frustration, resentment, and regret.
- Improves your sleep
Gratitude increases the quality of your sleep, decreases the time it takes to fall asleep, and lengthens the duration of your sleep.
- Gratitude improves your mental strength.
Gratitude makes us more resilient to trauma and stressful events.
- Gratitude improves your self-esteem.
Gratitude reduces social comparisons and makes you appreciate yours as well as other people’s accomplishments rather than becoming resentful towards others who have more than they do.
NOW, HOW TO PRACTISE GRATITUDE?
This is the fun part. Here are a number of fun ways to practise gratitude daily, here are some of my favourites:
- Gratitude journal
This one’s a classic. Pick out a journal that visually stimulates you (you love how it looks!), or simply decorate an ordinary, inexpensive notebook with cherished pictures of people or things you love and care about (your children or pets, or inspirational words and images).
Gift yourself with a gratitude journal that you’ll love to look at every morning and evening and list 3 things that you are grateful for. Try counting all the things you have in your life that money cannot buy.
- Gratitude Calendar
This works for teenagers AND little kids. There are some amazing samples available online or you can make your own. This ‘one day at a time’ approaches works best if you are just beginning your practice.
- Gratitude Jar
Now, this can be a fun family practise. Take a jar and every day fill it with little paper slips on which you write one thing you were grateful for that particular day. Compare weekly or monthly with your family or friends.
A little tip, read what you’ve written on days you’re feeling sad.
- Thanksgiving Sunday
Sit around the table with great food and close friends and family. Simply enjoy the food and take turns telling each other why you are grateful for in life or it can also be about the people sitting around you. Trust me, you Sundays will never be the same.
- Draw what you are grateful for
For artistic adults or those little artists who just love to paint. Instead of writing or saying, start drawing. It’s a great way to express gratitude if you have an artistic side and it works the best for young children. This project can be done at home or in school. You won’t believe what great masterpieces can be created this way.
The more you practice gratitude, the more aware you are of it, and the more you can enjoy its benefits.
So let me ask you again,
What are you grateful for in this moment?
Make your gratitude post on social media today and tag me @…. so we can re-post some of our favourites.
And don’t forget
It’s not happy people who are thankful. It’s thankful people who are happy.