I was raised with good values and have considered myself a grateful person. However, several years ago I began contemplating what it means to live in a state of gratitude. By discovering what it means to me, I have evolved into a calmer, more positive, and happier person.
I began practicing the state of gratitude by making a list of the things for which I am grateful. I started and ended each day in gratitude. In the morning I said, "I am grateful for this day and all the gifts and opportunities it brings." In the evening I said, "I am grateful for (something that happened during the day, like a gift, a lesson, an opportunity, a lovely quiet day, etc.) and look forward to a great day tomorrow." Then I began to extend this gratitude throughout the day. For instance, this very moment I can hear the birds singing right outside the window and I am grateful for the ability to hear their beautiful music. So living in a state of gratitude is being consciously aware of all the things around you for which you are grateful. Perhaps, it is a beautiful sunrise, sunset, nature, a pet, friend, spouse, child, parent, and the list continues.
When I am feeling a bit out of sorts, I turn my focus to one or more of the many things for which I am grateful and it typically brings me right back in alignment. In this case, alignment means the person I want to be.
Grateful for Challenges
It is so easy to get caught up in all the challenges we face in our life. Perhaps you know someone who tends to focus on all the things that appear to go wrong in their life. I wonder what would be possible for them if they stopped focusing on the negative and became grateful for their challenges.
Many years ago, during the darkest times in my life I would look up to the heavens and say, "Why me Lord." Then one day I heard, "Why not you?" From that day on I have been practicing my focus on the gifts, discoveries, or opportunities the challenge will bring. There have been times when my challenge has given someone else an opportunity. I would guess that most research and product development has come from someone's challenge. Consider some of your past challenges and how they may have affected your, or someone's life in a positive way. Perhaps you met someone wonderful that you may not have met otherwise. Perhaps you learned something new about yourself or someone else.
As an example: My father became very ill and needed to be in the hospital. My husband Jon and I begged him to let us call an ambulance. His answer was, "No." I had always been a bit timid around him since he ruled the roost and was also a very proud man. Therefore, when he said no that was typically the end of the discussion. However, we knew his condition was serious so we endured many painful hours of trying to change his mind before he allowed us to make the call. After his admission into the hospital and his doctor's examination, I was informed that my father would never go home. He died a few weeks later. I will not go into the horrendous and challenging details of this experience in this article. I will save it for another day. Suffice to say that it was a very difficult time for me and yet I discovered an inner strength that was previously unknown to me. This experience was full of lessons, opportunities, and many gifts. The most treasured gift is that my husband Jon and brother Gary were a big support and we formed a tremendous bond.
Grateful For My Independence
My brother Gary and I visit my beautiful sister-in-law, Merilee every week. She lives in a full care nursing facility. She experiences Diabetes, Alzheimers, and Arthritis throughout her body. She has been experiencing an uncontrollable sugar level and many 911 seizures since she was a teenager, which has really taxed her body. She is confined to either bed or wheel chair because she is unable to walk, feed herself, and take care of her basic needs. Additionally, she is unable to wheel herself and relies on others for assistance. Yet, with the assistance of a nurse's aide, she gets dressed every day, participates in some activities, and eats in the cafeteria.
In the activities room, Gary and I have enjoyed participating with the residents in bingo, trivial pursuit, exercise, musical events, and sharing stories. It is rewarding to us and appreciated by them. We never really know what will come into our life. Dependent living circumstances can happen at any age. These weekly visits keep me living in a state of gratitude for my independence, and health.
Grateful For My Five Senses and the Experiences They Bring
- To see all the colors of the rainbow, people, animals, nature, etc.
- To hear nature's music through birds singing, a squirrel's raspy bark, the wind, a baby's laughter (which for me is the most beautiful sound in the world), and most importantly hear someone say, "I love you."
- To taste the goodness of nature's bounty.
- To smell the uniqueness of everything.
- To feel the texture, warmth, or coolness, of everything I touch
Grateful For My Family
- Teaching me humor, for I believe this is one of the greatest assets to have.
- Teaching me about love, kindness, humility
- Supporting my dreams.
Grateful For Our Home
I am so very grateful for our home, clean water, food, jobs, modern conveniences, cars, warm bed, and more. Growing up I took all these things for granted. Yet even in this age of great advancement there are still people who live without clean water and indoor plumbing.
Grateful For My Friends
I have been blessed with amazing people in my life. I value their friendship and consider them a part of my family.
Of coarse the lists above are just a few of the many things for which I am grateful.
In the global meditation BLISScipline, gratitude is one of the focuses. One day there was a woman that spoke up at the end of the meditation and said, "I am so devastated from the death of my friend, I am having a difficult time finding anything to be grateful for." I was stunned by the massive pain that blocked this loving woman from experiencing gratitude. If you are challenged by creating your own gratitude list, consider starting small. Perhaps it is your senses, a part of your body, talents, gifts, a good friend or family member. Perhaps it is the computer or paper that allows you to read this article, your shoes, the chair that you are sitting on, etc.
For me, focusing on gratitude chases away feelings of unhappiness, disappointment, anger, etc. The next time you feel angry or sad, I invite you to focus on some things for which you are grateful and notice what happens. If you haven't already, consider all the things for which you are grateful and begin listing them on paper or computer. There is something powerful about writing out a list. Some people find it useful to keep a daily gratitude journal. Then, when an unwanted mood strikes, there is beautiful reminder written in your own words that may lift your consciousness to the state of gratitude.
I look at my gratitude list and consider each thing a blessing. I believe that the state of being in gratitude is one of the most (if not the most) important keys to a happy life.
What does gratitude mean to you? What are you grateful for in this very moment and why are you grateful for it?
In Loving Support of Your Ideal Life,