One of the most important words in any language, yet difficult to apply, is ‘gratitude’.
Sometimes we pray, say thanks when conditions are good or even automatically (therefore without real meaning) and then when things go wrong, we tend to totally forget about the power of gratitude. We can find ourselves going through difficult situations and tough times where everything seems to be against us and wonder what we have to be grateful for. When in this space it’s easy to feel down and alone, and it’s here we may decide to quit. Relationships can come to an end, passions die, ideas pass and our spirit is broken – gratitude is nowhere to be found.
There will always be light, even in dark situations. There is a way to see and even feel it as we work through the toughness of the situation. Learning tools, tips and techniques for finding that hidden gem is possible. To start, having an awareness around gratitude is helpful in keeping our spirits uplifted and energised. Whilst it might seem easy to talk the talk, of course when the turkeys are getting us down, it is challenging to see or feel any gratitude. It’s important in this moment to draw on our ‘awareness’. Stopping and reassessing, being able to steer ourselves in a more positive direction and start small steps towards making a shift is a supportive place to step into.
Being grateful, creates lightness and gives us clarity. We notice the simple things – like the sun shining, a stranger smiling, waves breaking or birds singing. Choosing to see the positive in our situation, we become changed and the healing begins.
Tips for finding gratitude
- Appreciate everything: Choose to see gratitude in the small things as well as the big. There is appreciation in the smallest of things. Gratitude will become a habit – with practice the easier it becomes and the more our life changes. Small or large, the room for gratitude is everywhere. Our shoes, the smile of our partner, the egg cooked perfectly, the bill paid on time, an extra hour sleeping. Being grateful for everything which has made us, who we are!
- Be grateful for challenges: Gratitude for the learnings will support our growth. However, the reality is, in the moment it is tough to see the good because the pain can be too big. We’ve all experienced tough times in our lives, and after the hurt we also know there are blessings, even if small. It is powerful to dig deep, reflect on past experiences, find support from loved ones and know ‘This too shall pass’.
- Mindfulness: Practice creates habits. Upon waking think about 5-10 things we are grateful for. Picture these things in our mind’s eye – the more vivid, the better. Make it a movie if we want! Now, feel the gratitude. Studies suggest doing this for eight weeks and observing the changed positive thinking patterns and level of happiness.
Lastly, are you looking for tools to help you on your journey to find gratitude? A gratitude journal will help you log positive thoughts. Create and nurture this habit and reflect periodically. You could also volunteer – become a positive-change agent in your local community, school, church or charity. Why not complete a passion project you’ve always wanted to do. Time cannot be bought, so make time for the things you love.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
~ William Arthur Ward