GRATEFULNESS. What Is It and Do You Have Enough Of It?

We’re always looking for something better. The grass almost always seems greener on the other side. Why? I believe it’s because we’re always looking OUT THERE. We forgot to look WHAT’S HERE. Right HERE. You might be looking at this personwith a perfect tan and wish you had one. Or you might be someone who looksat that person with fair skin and thought life was unfair that you were born so dark. You might be looking at a family with a very big house and think to yourself you would never get one. Some of you may have seen a friend’s spouse who is hopelessly romantic and wish your spouse could be half as romantic. You Get The Idea. Most of the time we wish we were the other person. We wish we had what that other person has.

You know what the problem here is? You need to remember this: What we see depends on what we look at. When we look at what we lack or what we are short of, we are bound to feel unhappy about our lives. When we look at bad days, we only see the bad days and the good days get lost from your thoughts. When we look at difficult times, we forgot the things that keep us going and when that happens, we want to give up. In a nutshell, we forget to be grateful for all the good things in our life. We just forget.

Why do we need to feel gratitude? Why is it important? Gratitude or gratefulness is the quality or state of being thankful for or appreciative of something. What follows thankfulness or appreciation is happiness and contentment. And that’s what we all strive to feel everyday of our lives: happiness. Gratitude plays a huge role in shaping our happiness. The more we have to be grateful for, the happier we are. And we have to be grateful for small things in our lives, things that we already have. If you are only waiting to be grateful for things you wish to have, you are not living a life of gratitude. I know you want a happy life. But are you happy? If you are, good, keep it up! If not, there is a way to be happy and that is to live a life of gratitude. Do you have enough of it? The more, the better.

It takes a little bit of effort at first. To feel grateful, I mean. Especially if you are not used to feeling it everyday. But that doesn’t mean you should not start noticing the good things in life. This is the perfect time for you to start living with gratitude. So how do you start? I’d like to share with you THREE ways to live a grateful life:

SMILE when you wake up. 

I’m serious. How many people actually wake up and feel happy, thankful and exhilarated for being alive for another day! How many people notice that precious moment of knowing you are still alive and breathing? That you still have another chance at life. That you still have another chance to rectify something or do something for somebody or spend more time with your loved ones? For the past 29 years of my life, I had not taken notice of this precious moment, this gift of life. I never did. I believe only people who know their time is limited feel grateful in this manner. People with terminal illness feel deep gratitude for each breath they take. I lost my most beloved father to cancer 8 months ago and I can tell you he was grateful for every day of his life since the diagnosis. My mother, my sister and I were all grateful for every year he lived after the diagnosis. But you can start being grateful now, you don’t have to wait for a reason to start being grateful.

Oh, I haven’t forgotten about the possibility that you MIGHT forget about this new tactic =) So how do you ensure you remember? Put a post-it-note on something or somewhere you always look at when you wake up. Is it your phone? Is it your alarm clock? Is it your bathroom mirror? Before you go to bed each night, stick a post-it-note that says “Smile, life is about to get exciting because I’m going to let it!” or simply “SMILE!”.. whatever works for you. The keyword is “SMILE”. Because when you smile, genuinely of course, it creates warmth that spreads inside you. Take a minute or two to smile, skip to the bathroom, smile as you choose your outfit for the day at the wardrobe, smile as you brush your teeth. If you can dance to a beat in your head and smile that’s even better! Just do anything to get your mood up, be thankful and be really happy about having TODAY.

You’ve got to give it a try for at least a week and let me know how it has helped you become a more grateful person. Try it for a week, I guarantee you will feel different. Definitely!

BE PRESENT and take notice of the things around you.

This one is hard for most of us, given the craziness of the demands thrown at us by our bosses, our family, our spouse, our friends, our children, etc etc. Who has time to be present right? We’re all thinking about the next task right? Well yes. But we have to stop this auto-pilot mode. We have to be present. When you are having lunch with your colleagues, be present and enjoy the conversation instead of thinking about the presentation slides that  are due that day. When you accompany your children in bed and have to stay till they fall asleep, be present instead of thinking about the dirty dishes and the messy floor waiting for you, this one is hard for me, very hard. I often resent the time I have to spend waiting for them to fall asleep. But I’m trying to be present in the moment and appreciate the time I have with them, appreciate the fact that they still need my touch. When you are present, you slow your mind down, and you can take notice of the things that happen around you, and you will start to appreciate things that you might not have noticed at all if you weren’t “present”. And that’s how you start to live life with gratitude. Be present, take notice of what’s happening, and be grateful.

EMBRACE the negative. 

Let’s face it. It’s not all pink and rosy when it comes to life. There are dark times. Times you wish didn’t happen. But the only way to be grateful about it is to understand that negative things happen and we need to accept it as it is for example the death of a loved one. There is nothing positive about it, but at least when you accept, you start to focus your energy on thinking about the good memories you had with that person. Most of the time though, the negatives in our lives do really have the positive side to it if we look hard enough. House too small? At least you have a roof over your head. Lost a job? There’s a new opportunity waiting for you. Feel excited instead of being stressed about securing another job. It shows during the interview whether you are anxious or excited about the new opportunity. We need to look deeper than what’s on the surface. Only then will we see that we still have loads to be thankful for despite the “negative” things in our lives.

Start being grateful today. I promise it will be worth it.

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