There is so much in this world that we have, yet so much that we don’t, at least not in terms of our desires, and needs in life. Clean water, nourishing food for our bodies, and a comfortable place to sleep, we have learned to take these commodities for granted, most likely because we have never seen the other side of the story.
I have travelled through majority of countries in Southeast Asia, and I have seen levels of poverty unprecedented in the Western world, yet the spirit of the people never seemed to be completely diminished, in fact, I feel like the people in Asia have a much stronger understanding of basic human nature, and how important it is to appreciate even the smallest of things in life.
There is still room for extensive research in the field of gratitude and grateful living, but some studies that go back as far as 2003 have shown that a positive attitude living can decrease depression and stress significantly, based on the person’s free expression of gratitude for someone who did something nice to them in the past.
Another study from Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough showed that daily gratitude helped participants to experience a heightened sense of wellbeing, promoting productivity and happiness based on an optimistic outlook on life, which was achieved through gratitude, or “counting blessings” as the study depicts.
When are we most grateful in life? It’s usually when someone is gifting us something, whether as a birthday present, or a present during the holiday season. There’s a certain feeling of joy, excitement and happiness that comes from being given a gift.
We have all felt it, yet many of us underestimate the power of being grateful in our daily, for practically everything. The people who prepare our food in restaurants, the people who deliver grocery items to the store, the water that is being provided to us by mother Earth. Why feel joyful for being given a precious gift only a few times throughout the year, if we can feel that joy of gratitude every single day?
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. — Epicurus
During my last 4 years as a meditation practitioner, I have come to learn that the morning time is the best for setting up your day to be positive, mindful, and joyful at the same time. Apart from a meditation practice, we can practice mindfulness and gratitude as a way of starting our day off on the right foot.
Setting your intention
My preferred method of getting a habit going is to use intention as a means of training my mind to adapt to new ways of living and expressing myself. The night before, I like to make a mental note to myself that I am going to meditate, I am going to be grateful, and depending on what my plans are, I might affirm to myself — I am going to practice yoga.
It’s like planting a seed that grows overnight! As you wake up, your mind is already in a state of this needs to be done, and it makes it that much easier to get out of bed and do it.
Besides, meditation, gratitude and yoga are such beautiful ways to love yourself more, to give yourself spiritual and mental nourishment that can only make your life more joyful.
Try it. Before heading to sleep tonight, set an intention for what you’d like to practice tomorrow morning, be it meditation or gratitude, or both! You can never have too much of happiness in your life, and surprisingly it comes at no cost whatsoever.
Affirming the good things in life
We might feel like there are bad things in life, but perhaps a better perspective would be that the bad is helping us tread a path towards the good. There’s always something to learn from everything that is happening to us, so even if times are bad, you’re still able to be grateful for your life as it is, in this moment.
Some people say, “But I don’t have anything to be grateful for!”, and it’s always exciting to begin recapping the things that we can be grateful for, in each passing moment.
Would you like a starter kit?
- Your family, your friends, the people most close to you. The people that nourish you emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. The people that inspire you, the people that push you to your limits so you can grow and enjoy life. They’re all around you, and it takes only a split moment to feel the gratitude for them in your heart, for all the amazing and wonderful things they’ve done to, and for you.
- Your body consists of so many vital life components, your heart and your lungs that keep you alive, your legs and arms that give you mobility, and your eyesight and sense of hearing that allows you to truly experience life. When we feel gratitude for our body, for ourselves, we begin to understand the deeply rooted connection that our mind and body shares within each passing breath.
- The food that you consume throughout the day. The nutrients that this food is providing to your body so that you can feel alive and nourished. Think of the number of people that had to work hard so that you could have access to all this greatness, it’s unprecedented. We all contribute our fair share to the world, and fostering gratitude for those who have helped to better our lives, helps us to recognize the world as an interconnected community.
The key to a grateful mindset is to truly feel the gratitude in your heart, to feel the energy of joy rising as you thank those around you for providing support and nourishment to your life experience.
You may think to yourself, “Am I doing this right?”, and the answer lies in your ability to truly feel that energy of gratitude going through your body.
It’s almost as if you’re giving yourself a brand new pair of glasses, through which the world becomes a more colorful experience, where judgements and comparison begin to dissipate, as we learn to understand the connection between each living and nonliving thing.