Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

~ Melody Beattie

As the holiday season unfolds it is tough to avoid participating in or hearing conversations about stress. Unfortunately, the holidays are a stressful time for many, bringing reminders of what they lack, whether it is money, time or relationships.

This holiday season I invite you to foster a feeling of gratitude, beginning now, but moving even beyond Thanksgiving. Having a grateful heart is transforming and should be a daily event not just relegated to one day a year for the purposes of corporate marketing campaigns or historic patriotism. Living in the United States, most of us have a standard of living higher than two-thirds of the rest of the planet. Instead of focusing on what you do not or can not have this holiday season, bring your awareness around to the many things you do and begin practicing gratitude.

You can begin right now by listing three things for which you are grateful. It may be simple, such as, “I am grateful for the roof over my head.” “I am grateful for the invention of cell phones.” Or they may be more unique or specific to your situation, such as, “I am grateful for the daily phones calls from my partner.” Or “I am grateful that my child wasn’t hurt in the car accident.”

There is a simple saying, “Begin each day with a grateful heart.” A wonderful way to exercise this is to start a daily gratitude journal. Begin by purchasing a beautiful journal; one that speaks to you and compels you to write in it. Buy a pen that you enjoying using. Then begin by writing down five things each day for which you are grateful. You can do this upon waking or right before going to bed if you prefer. You may even find you like doing it twice a day!

In the beginning it may feel silly or even seem a little demanding. Some days will be easy, others more challenging. Stick with it. If you continue to do this, in no time, you will find it hard to stop at five. And you needn’t. The more you do this the more you will begin to be grateful for an abundance of things, large and small, throughout your day and your life. You may find that the universe has been holding back until you learned to appreciate what you had already.

If you find you are having trouble on this journey, Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance is one of many great resources available. In Simple Abundance, Sarah coined the concept of the daily gratitude journal. This book contains 366 daily reflections, which explore Gratitude, Simplicity, Order, Beauty, Harmony and Joy in everyday life. Being grateful for simple and everyday things is grounding and offers contentment. It can assist you in being more present in your life; living in the now versus ruminating in the past or worrying about the future. If you continue with the daily gratitude journal I promise that you will transform your life, your perceptions.

Source: Soaring Higher – November 2007

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