Gratitude is perhaps the most important key to finding success and happiness in the modern world. Realising what should be grateful for in life means we can discover who we are, what matters to us and what makes each day worthwhile. Paying attention to what we feel thankful for also puts us in a positive frame of mind and connects us to the world around us and to ourselves.
Gratitude can be defined in several ways. The first, and probably the most common definition, describes it as the quality of being appreciative or thankful. It is the state of being ready and willing to show appreciation to others and to return kindnesses we receive. Another definition refers to it as the ‘ability to be keenly aware of the good things that happen to you, and to never take them for granted’.
You have to be able to make the distinction between saying ‘thank you’ just to be polite, and saying it because you genuinely mean it. The former is obligatory; the latter is true gratitude. Gratefulness is something that is heartfelt, not something that is done because it is expected.
How can we feel more grateful?
- Challenge your critical inner voice.
We can start to feel more gratitude by silencing the negative thoughts that turn us against ourselves and the people we love. It’s easy to see how this inner critic can interfere with our feelings of gratitude. It takes us out of the present and keeps us entirely in our heads, distorting how we see the world. When in this state, we are often unavailable or unattuned to other people. While listening to this inner voice, we miss out on seeing the world around us through a more compassionate and realistic lens. Therefore, we fail to appreciate what is good in our lives and in ourselves and others.
- Make a list of five things you are grateful for right now.
These can be big things or little things, written down or noted mentally. Do it now! Reflect on your list and allow yourself to feel good about these things.
When we focus on the things we regret, such as failed relationships, family disputes, and setbacks in our careers and finances, we tend to become more regretful. Conversely, when we focus on the things we are grateful for, a greater sense of happiness tends to pervade our lives.
While no one would argue for cultivating a false sense of blessedness, there is mounting evidence to suggest that counting our blessings is one of the best habits we can develop to promote positive mental and physical health.
- Cultivate faith in miracles.
Faith knows that the world speaks to us through our hearts and souls. Learn to listen to your gut feelings and sense of vitality. Know that the mystery you have faith in is already at work within you, not only around you.
Surrendering leads us to live with humility and give up the idea that we know what is best for ourselves and others. Surrendering teaches us that being fully present and allowing life to unfold are transformative and empowering processes. It’s about being so vulnerable that you know you are invincible.
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