We live in a society where we’re all very busy, flitting from one thing to the other and often juggling work, family and studies. Because we rarely have the time to mentally process each day, being grateful often gets forgotten about. We may show our gratitude to others if they have helped us, but how often have you been totally present in the moment, thought about your surroundings, what and who is involved in your life?
When I first thought about gratitude, I thought it was saying thank you and showing people that I appreciated what they’d done for me. Yes of course, this is showing gratitude, but it also means a lot more. By focussing on personal development, I realised that gratitude is not only for when people have helped me, it’s for what I have in life. It can be the material things, but more importantly it can be for the non-tangible things that we usually take for granted. Sitting writing this blog today, it’s a cold winters day, but it’s sunny with a blue sky and in the winter I’m grateful for days like this as they make me feel more energetic and I get more done.
Some of my blog readers may know about or have done a gratitude diary. For those who don’t know about this, give it a go, all you need is a notebook and a pen. Every evening, write down two things that you are grateful for, it could be your family, your health, a friendship, it doesn’t matter what, it’s getting you to think about gratitude. Sometimes you might find this difficult if you’ve had a bad day, so let’s imagine you’ve had a really bad day, and you’ll see how you can use gratitude to lift your spirits. Your bad day began when it was raining, the train was late, you had a deadline and work was stressful, you had a headache, had to stand on your commute home and to top it off, got soaked through walking back home from the station. You’d ask yourself what there was to be grateful for normally wouldn’t you? However, even during those days when you just wish they would end and you’re really fed up, gratitude can help you. Let’s go back to the bad day – yes, it may have been a bad day, but what went right? Even the small things, like ‘when I eventually got to work, my friend smiled at me and that made me feel good’, or ‘when I got home, I changed and put on comfortable clothes which made me feel more relaxed’. These are small things which we normally take for granted, but being grateful for these small things enables you to see the bigger picture. Start this way and build it up, taking time to look around you, feeling grateful. You will find that your mindset and outlook changes into a more positive one and looking at your life in this way makes you look around you and appreciate every day, even the bad ones and even the little things.
For some, it may be an automatic assumption that those who suffer from an illness can’t find gratitude very easily. However, as a chronic illness sufferer, I have managed to bring gratitude into my life. Certainly, each time when I found out that I had a blood clot I had difficulty in accepting it, feeling positive and I definitely didn’t feel grateful. However, in time and again, through personal development, I’ve found myself feeling more grateful than I ever had done before. Firstly, I am grateful to have been given a second, third and fourth chance at life. I am grateful for the people around me who love and support me even though their lives have also been affected by my illness. Some may hate the daily reminder of having a chronic illness when they take their medication, but I’m grateful for the medication that keeps me alive and for the research that goes into it. I have a damaged leg that is sometimes painful, but I’m still grateful that I have that leg. Even when I’ve been restricted by my condition, I’m grateful for the opportunities I have by thinking and taking action around that restriction. Thinking with gratitude gives me positive energy which I channel into what I do as a coach, helping others to look at their lives and change their outlook. I feel more alive, it helps me with my mindfulness and having now got into this mindset, even on a dull day when everything seems to have gone wrong, I can always find something small to be grateful for, even if it’s just a nice cup of earl grey tea.
Next time you feel stuck in a rut, can’t see your way forward and feel low, give yourself half an hour of quiet time, put your phone where you can’t see it, turned the TV off, and think about your day in minute detail, what do you take for granted that if you didn’t have, you would miss? What do you feel grateful for? Be aware of how you feel in your body as well as your mind when you do this exercise, how do you feel when you change your thinking?
Don’t wish your life away, it’s precious and you don’t want to look back and think ‘I should have done this’ or ‘I wasted the time’. Start living with gratitude today, become more aware and be more present. Contact me here if you want to discuss your way forward with gratitude.
Next month – H is for hesitant. Does this word resonate with you, are you hesitant when it comes to doing things you have to do, and do you feel anxious when you’re hesitant? I’ll be exploring hesitation and looking at how we can move hesitation into action – out on 1st March!