It can be easy to overlook that power, or to discount it.
Yet, even while the its power often works in subtle ways, gratitude changes lives — the lives of the those experiencing and expressing gratitude, the lives of those receiving gratitude, and the lives touched by the rippling effects of that gratitude.
In addition to that power, another important aspect of gratitude is that it is open and available to all of us.
Even when life throws us numerous and incredible challenges, when we feel like everything is wrong (perhaps including ourselves), when life is painful and hard to endure, when our world is grey and numb, or when it seems like there is nothing to keep going for, we can still tap into the power of gratitude.
Gratitude is an innate part of us, and while we may have lost touch with it in many cases, gratitude is still there, simply waiting to be recognized and rekindled.
That means, no matter where we are in our relationship with life, we can cultivate greater gratitude, and with greater gratitude, we can change our lives for the better.
A path to grow greater gratitude
There are many marvelous paths available for cultivating gratitude, and which path(s) you take is up to you.
If you’re looking for an easy first step on a path for growing greater gratitude, an excellent option is to simply start looking through life as it is, and find things worth being grateful for; or, as I’ll term it “Gratitude Searching”.
This option doesn’t require any of your circumstances to change, it doesn’t necessitate going out into the world, nor does it require you to take action in a highly specified way.
Still, the impacts on life of this flexible approach are great, and additionally, it is a nice warm up for cultivating gratitude in other manners.
Basically, all you need to do is:
- Seek out the things in life to be grateful for: big, small, in between.
- Note them down somewhere, on a piece of paper, on your computer, etc. (Noting them in a physical way is an important action, since it can help amplify the impact of your gratitude.)
- Along with noting your gratitude, take a few moments to really feel and express the gratitude as well.
This exercise is particularly helpful to do in the morning when you get up, before you go to sleep, or when things seem extra tough to get through. (You don’t need to do this exercise at all three time, though it is an option.)
In general, doing this in the morning helps start the day off on the right foot, noting your gratitude at night can help release the day’s stress and make it easier to sleep, and performing this exercise when things are extra tough can help change your mindset and interaction with those difficult situations.
Really though, you can take this gratitude growing action any time, as frequently as you wish, and you can vary when and how you do it.
For example, you may write things on paper one morning, type in some notes on a computer one afternoon, and make a voice recording before bed one day.
It’s good to experiment and try things out to see what works best for you, as that’s what’s most important.
(If you’re looking for a more surefire way to get this exercise and its benefits integrated into your life, try the morning or evening approach first since it is easier to actually schedule and set reminders for those times.)
Thanks to life, the universe, and everything; or, what to be thankful for when it’s hard to be thankful
Step 1 above says “Seek out the things in life to be grateful for: big, small, in between.”
While it’s true there are always many things to be thankful for, when life is tough and our mindset isn’t at its most spectacular, that first step can seem like a challenge.
In this case, it can help to start by recognizing things that might seem trivial, unimportant, or even a bit ridiculous.
Consider some of the most everyday things like:
- Fresh air to breathe
- Clean and plentiful water to drink
- The ability to read, walk, talk, hear, see, taste, touch, smell
- A comfortable place to sleep at night
- Shelter from the elements
- Plentiful food
- Access to a shower
- Easy to do laundry and clean clothes
- Convenient transportation
- Modern communication tools
- The sound of birds
- Blue skies and white clouds
- Stable ground beneath you
- Reliable electricity and plumbing
- The spectacular beauty of nature
- A warm heater/fire on a cold day
- A cup of coffee or tea
- and so on…
This type of list can really go on endlessly, it just requires taking the time to consider the world around us.
Within the list above, you may spot some broader categories worth contemplating, such as:
- What you have, but could lose (For example, this can include health — even if you aren’t the healthiest right now. If you can walk, stand up, move around, communicate with others, sense the world around, etc, then there is something to be grateful for.)
- What you have that others might not (For example, drinkable water, clean air, safe and plentiful food, reliable shelter, etc. These are worth treasuring and there are many people without them.)
- >Possibilities for the future (If you’re alive, there are infinite possibilities for what the future can bring, and what you can do with that future.)
Looking to these types of things gives us an easier first step on our gratitude growing path, and ultimately, while possibly feeling frivolous at first, these are very worthwhile things to be grateful for.
An additional aspect of this approach is you can express your gratitude to the ether, God, some supernatural being, a hidden life force, the universe, science, nothingness, or whatever else is most appropriate for your belief system. This means you can do this exercise any time, any place, alone, or with others; it’s flexible and it’s up to you.
Gratitude changes life.
It’s an innate part of us, available for each of us to harness and grow, even in the toughest and darkest of times.
There are many paths available to us for growing greater gratitude. An excellent one, which provides an easy first step, is to practice “Gratitude Searching”.
It’s a flexible approach, you can do anywhere, at any time, and in your own way.
Key mindset shift:
- Know that everyday things offer us much to be grateful for. (Think gratitude for the everyday)
Realization to consider:
- There is much in life as it is right now to be grateful for, we just need to acknowledge it. Being “everyday” doesn’t make it trivial; so it’s good to appreciate it for being there.
Actions to take:
- Practice “Gratitude Searching”
- Seek out the things in life to be grateful for: big, small, in between. Look for the everyday things.
- Note down somewhere what you’re grateful for, on a piece of paper, on your computer, etc. (Noting your gratitude in a physical way is an important action, since it can help amplify the impact of your gratitude.)
- Along with noting your gratitude, take a few moments to really feel, experience, and express your gratitude as well.
Be well and thank you,
Fellow Journeyer @ BigSkyRise
Tip for greater effectiveness: As you search for things to be grateful for, take your time. For each item you find, contemplate for a few moments on your gratitude for it. Consider what that thing really means to you, what life would be like without it, how much you’d miss it if it weren’t there, etc. Also, continue exploring more things to be grateful for even if the first few things don’t feel very impactful for you. When our world doesn’t feel too great it can take some time to redirect the course of our emotions and thoughts.
Additionally, be forgiving and flexible with yourself if the exercise isn’t feeling like it is working at that moment. Sometimes, we just aren’t in quite the right place inside at that time.
Help others, help me, and help yourself by sharing this message and BigSkyRise with your world.