Connecting with gratitude will add magic to your life. The way you see the world will change. It’s not about wearing rose-coloured glasses and seeing the world in an idealistic way. It’s about realizing you choose how you interact with and perceive your world. When you start to see the world through eyes of gratitude, you realize how kind people are to each other (especially when it’s complete strangers), how much beauty is around you, how sweet the little things in life are. You see the things you missed when you were in a rush, in a place of anger, when you were annoyed at the person who cut you off in traffic, when life gets you caught up in your ego and chaos. You also start to notice you give a little more to others…you are kinder in your opinions, less reactive, more patient/generous with your time, and more easily let go of holding grudges with others. You connect with the living world around you because you take a minute to notice it, appreciate it and don’t take it for granted…the smell of cut grass, the warmth of the sun, the bird chirping outside. You start to see things with a child-like newness, engaging your senses more fully as you experience life. You start to shift your focus to noticing things to be grateful for, which allows you to come from a place of abundance and positive thought, instead of a place of scarcity and negativity.
So how do we do this? Connect with gratitude. A good way to start…as recommended time and again by Oprah Winfrey is laying in bed, about to fall asleep, reviewing your day and recognizing 10 things to be grateful for. Oprah recommends keeping a gratitude journal and recording all the things you’re grateful for. A journal can be helpful if you get in a negative frame of mind… you can remind yourself of all the little things you were grateful for before. If you are going to get a journal, get something or make something you find beautiful or appealing, something sacred to write in. You may find it hard at first thought. ..hmm… 10 things to be grateful for. Then once you get started you realize all the things that were lovely, to be grateful for in your day.
It’s important you really connect with the feeling of gratitude when you do this exercise…to not make a “fake” list of things you think you should be grateful for. My wife, my home, my job. Add detail and emotion. Make it real. Sources for inspiration can be physical comforts (your soft, warm comfortable bed, a hot shower), tastes (fresh strawberries, home-cooked meal), sounds (heard your favorite song playing, wind in the trees during your walk, your child’s voice), smells (smell of your body lotion, cup of tea, humic smell of after rainfall), interactions or special moments in your day (with people, friends, family, a stranger, a pet, nature), opportunities you took to share, love, or be there for someone, and/or just breathing and being alive.
If you find yourself finding it hard to be genuinely grateful in this exercise it is a sign that you need to open your heart
more to receiving the wonderful things around you, to seeing the wonderful things around you, and getting in touch with yourself. Just try sticking to it, even if your list includes less than 10 things. Start to add things to your day that you can be grateful for. Maybe it’s taking time out to take a short walk on a sunny day even though you’re busy. Making a special trip to visit a special coffee/pastry shop (like Thomas Haas instead of your neighbourhood haunt). Just appreciating the strangers who treat us so well or help us through the day. Again..once you start to shift your focus to gratitude, the world becomes a more welcoming and loving place.
You can also start to share your gratitude with the world. Little acts of kindness or generosity or literally saying thank you. You can say a very genuine thank you to the bus driver who gives you a ride to work everyday, or the barista who makes your drink, something you appreciate about how they do their job, that makes them special. You can pick up garbage you see littering a park, that someone else dropped because they didn’t appreciate the nature around them. Not in a I”m better than this person who dropped this garbage, ego-driven way, but in a hey mother nature thanks for this beauty. You can be patient and let someone go in line ahead of you, share a kind word or compliment with a stranger. You can also share this practice with your partner, children, friends, and family. My husband and I have created a gratitude list on Thanksgiving to see if we could fill in a list 100 things to be grateful for and easily did. It’s a lovely practice to pass on (as a thing to try).
Try it for a month and see how it changes you, your feelings, and how you perceive the world around you. Have fun with it!