Is your life happy? Do you remember to enjoy the small things in life? Do you express your gratitude every day?
To live a healthy happy life requires you address all aspects of your life and surroundings. You need to go much further than just getting fit or changing what you eat. Obviously fitness and diet develop the physical body. But they also develop the mental and emotional bodies to a degree.Exercise does this through the endorphins released during exercise. Good food choices create a better chemical balance in the brain.
The mind-body connection is well recognised and it’s known your emotional state affects how healthy your body is.
Holistic growth involves changing and improving on all levels – spiritually as well as physically and mentally. It requires you to be constantly aware and willing to make changes in attitudes, to practice mindfulness, to cultivate gratitude, and to open your heart with generosity.
To develop your spirituality you don’t need to follow a religion although you can if you prefer. But you do need to develop a close and meaningful relationship with your essential inner self. You could go and undertake something quite life-changing such as Vipassana meditation to achieve this. But often it’s by simply looking at the things in your life differently that you create the biggest impact. And you can do this in small ways every day.
Becoming connected to the world directly around you in a positive and meaningful way can create a snowballing effect that leads to big changes within. By developing and practising this you also show love and care for yourselves. You can do this by:
- showing love and care for the Earth in your own neighbourhood
- appreciating the small gestures of those you cross paths with
- acknowledging when things fall into place smoothly
- actually noticing what is going on around you
The key to achieving these grass root changes is in the cultivation of gratitude, which results in you becoming more generous, which then leads to personal awareness and growth. What a great chain of events!
Gratitude is a funny thing. We are all taught to say please and thank you but not often how to feel and express gratitude for our life.
I remember teaching this basic social grace to my 3 year old son. As he and his little friend were exchanging Christmas gifts the boys were told to “shake hands” to show gratitude and thanks. They looked at each other bewildered for a moment and then both started shaking their hands wildly in the air around themselves.
But gratitude is not just about saying thank you for a gift (whether you like it or not). It’s about finding joy in the detail of your life and bringing the focus of your life back to the minutiae around you.
Gratitude is about bringing an awareness of the continual flow of life and a development of a sense of your connection to all, within.
It’s about recognising all the blessings that are a part of each day, the blessings that often get lost in the daily humdrum.
Gratitude’s about finding joy in the detail of your life.
Living In The Moment
When exactly is it we first become focused on “keeping your eye on the prize”? I see this as the single most important attitude that undermines the practice of gratitude. We spend our life focused on achieving the promotion, the dream house, cool car. We follow fashion which changes so fast we constantly need more new garments, we work towards the next holiday, beautiful jewellery and on and on and on.
We’re driven by never-ending striving for what we need to achieve and own, our eyes constantly focused on what’s up ahead, the big prize.
When we live with this focus we miss the life around us, the little details of our everyday life. We fail to ever live in the moment.
Living in the moment is what we’ve been told to do in order to know, understand and improve ourselves, but we’re never in the space to achieve it.
By cultivating gratitude and forcing yourself to bring your focus back from what you desire or want to achieve you start to notice the small things around you. Then you begin to find ways to give back to the earth as well as to the people in your life.
By cultivating gratitude you also cultivate generosity.
One way to begin cultivating gratitude is to start a gratitude journal. You can buy these, but it’s nicer to find a small blank journal with a cover that sings to you, so it’s more personal. Every day you record three things you are grateful for. It helps to focus on what’s good in your life every single day. It’s also a way to keep depression away. When you start to recognise that your life does have joys, even if they’re small, that in some ways you are fortunate, it becomes more difficult to be consumed by the bleakness of an unfulfilled life.
I’ve kept gratitude journals in the past but don’t right now. Instead it’s enough before I go to sleep every night to simply acknowledge what I’m grateful for from the day. Recently I got to 28 small incidents from my day before I decided to stop and go to sleep. I hadn’t even got to including the mundane things like the bright sun on a winter day, and that my car started in spite of the frosty morning. I generally go to sleep smiling!
Give some thought to how you approach your life. Do you notice how friendly the storekeeper was? How your washing was all dry when you got home even though it’s cold? Or even that you had time to hang it out before going out? Do you appreciate that someone hugged you out of the blue? Or that you got a string of green traffic lights so you arrived home earlier? How about that someone admired your scarf? Do you feel gratitude for the clean smell of rain after a long, hot dry spell or a sweltering humid morning? Do you remember how wonderful these things are, or have they become simply a part of your life that you no longer notice and so no longer appreciate?
Benefits Of A Grateful Outlook
- Practicing gratitude reminds you to thank other people. Often we forget to thank the people who are around us day-in, day-out. We forget to remind them how important they are to us. Giving a quick word of thanks, a hug, or even sending a message improves their day and yours too.
- Practicing gratitude reminds you about all the good things in your life. It’s easy to get drowned in daily problems and challenges. Try looking for the good in every thing that happens, even the difficult ones. Did the challenge offer you the opportunity to learn something? Does it allow to enjoy things you like in your life, like holidays or family time?
- Practicing gratitude forces you to recognize and concentrate on what’s really important in your life. Instead of living with tunnel vision when you’re stressed, gratitude forces you to shift your perspective a little.
How To Practice Gratitude
So, are you a grateful person? Is practising gratitude the pathway to finding happiness? Has the time come for things to change for you?
Now is the time to teach yourself to live in the moment as you did when you were a small child. To learn to live in the moment while still functioning in a job, a family and a modern life.
Go out and get yourself a beautiful small gratitude journal and tonight write down three things you’re grateful for. If you don’t have a journal start one on your phone! It’s all about developing a habit…the habit of finding positives all around you and then paying them forward. And when you do this watch how your joy in life grows as you also grow.
World Gratitude Day happens on September 21st. What better time could there be to start your Gratitude Journal?
And me? Today I’m grateful for you, dear reader. Thank you for visiting.
Please share what you’re grateful for in the comments below.
All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only. They are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation with your health care provider. Do not use this article to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think your condition may be serious or before discontinuing any prescribed medication. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.