How to Cultivate Gratitude and Love your Life
Contributor

Over the past three years, I have done an annual Happiness Project, and each year gratitude or thankfulness has been a focus for a full month.  I did this as I wanted to remind myself not to take for granted the many blessings I have in my life.  From those that love me to the beautiful home I live in, and the everyday indulgences like the aroma of freshly made coffee on a rainy morning. 

 

Last year, when I prepared for teaching the Artist’s Way class about unlocking your creativity, I re-ignited a journaling practice.  This, in turn, became an excellent way for me to write about all the delightful things in my life that I am grateful for. 

 

Every day we hear others, or ourselves, complain about something.  How the weather is too hot or too cold, the horrible traffic on our drive into work, or even that when we went to drink our coffee, it was cold.  So, how do we change this mindset of looking at the negative to being grateful for the lives we have? 

 

Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. ~ Melody Beattie

 

Spirit of Thanksgiving

 

I read somewhere that the Japanese language has a term - on – which encompasses a spirit of Thanksgiving. The meaning often includes a sense of gratitude combined with a desire to repay others for what we have been given. It’s not just that we feel grateful, or that we express our gratitude, but that we experience a sincere desire to give something back. We might think of it as appreciation that stimulates a sense of obligation. Not an externally imposed obligation, but a sense of duty that arises naturally within us as we recognize how we have been supported and cared for by others.

 

People with a strong sense of gratitude, love, and appreciation don't necessarily have more than others; they recognize and see more beauty in their lives. A 2014 study suggests that people who count their blessings are generally happier and healthier than people who don't. If you ever feel as if anything in your life isn't "enough," try practicing an attitude of thankfulness. You might realize how good you have it after all.

 

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. ~John F. Kennedy

 

Become aware of all your blessings

 

'Enough' is a feast.  ~ Buddhist proverb

 

Be mindful of what is around you and what blessings you have in your life.  Pay attention to the sweet moments with loved ones.  Being fully present at this moment is when genuine appreciation can be observed and emotionally felt.  We have to be in the moment for our senses to be activated.  Only at this time can we enjoy the full aroma of pumpkin pie baking in the oven.  Live in this moment. If you're too busy dwelling on the past or thinking about the future, you won't be able to notice how fantastic things are right now.

 

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. ~  Eckhart Tolle

 

Be thankful for the little things.

 

The daily cup of tea, the weekly call with your Dad, the smell of mandarin oranges in the winter- these small things are blessings that we take for granted because they are part of our routine lives.  But these are the everyday blessings that are worthy of our gratitude.  They are the things that help us create special moments and memories that bring joy into our daily lives. 

 

Cherish any lightheartedness in your life. Things like laughter, affection, and playfulness are fleeting. Yet, these, too, bring joy and inspiration into our everyday lives.  Family game night, silly holiday traditions, or watching the comedy show together that makes everyone laugh out loud are those routine parts of our days that make a lasting impression. 

 

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. ~ Robert Brault

 

Look for the wonder that’s in your life.

 

I spent one month looking for the wonder in the natural world around me.  The smell of the ozone after a thunderstorm.  The running up the tree and then back down of the squirrel as he is chasing another squirrel.  The young hawk is sitting on your fence in the back yard.  These are the miracles that occur all around us that we don’t pay attention to.  The wonders of nature that teach us to stop, breathe and take in the extraordinary world around us.

 

The natural world is fantastic and can remind us that we are connected to this planet in ways we don’t recognize.  With mindfulness, we can become aware of the majesty and magic that this world contains if we are willing to be present.  Only through presence can we be a witness to the enchantment and splendor that surrounds our everyday life. 

 

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

 

Show your gratitude to others.

 

We need to let others know that we appreciate them and the things they do for us.  Thank your husband for taking the garbage to the curb each week.  Thank your son for helping you get stuff out of the attic.  Thank your granddaughter for helping you bake cookies. It’s through our gratitude that we teach children that serving others is an act of love.

 

Through our actions, we teach.  Actions show love.  Why don’t we show our gratitude when we feel it?  Is our ego getting in the way because we don’t want to seem needy?  Asking for help is an act of self-care.  It also shows others that we see and appreciate the talents they have, which we may lack.  Saying thank you is polite, but more importantly, it shows others that we appreciate them.  It’s an act of love. 

 

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~ William Arthur Ward

 

Perspective can foster gratitude.

 

Relax. It's hard to cultivate a sense of gratitude when you're angry, frustrated, or anxious; they're formidable barriers to thankfulness. Our perspective of the same situation changes with our mood and our attitude.  A negative mindset turns the good things in our lives to something mediocre. Why be negative?

 

When we change our mindset, we indeed can alter the outcomes of our lives.  By looking at the situation with a positive mindset, we can find the growth opportunity it has or the hidden blessing.  Learn to be thankful for the lessons learned and the strength we were able to muster to move past any barriers we come up against.  Only if we become aware, can we change the mediocre to the grand all through our perspective.

 

Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses. ~ Alphonse Karr

 

 

Moving Forward

 

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for. ~ Zig Ziglar

 

As we move forward into the holiday season, creating memories and enjoying this time of the year, remember to show your gratitude and appreciation to those that touch your life.  From the cashier who smiled at you after a 10-hour shift, to the driver who let you pull out safely, and the volunteer collecting donations for a worthy cause, thank them for their service and kindness they showed.  

 

I’m thankful you’re reading this and hope you and your family have a Happy and Joyous Thanksgiving season!

 

As you become more mindful of your life, looking at all the things you have to be grateful for, you can adjust the course of your life.  If you would like to receive more informative and mindful articles right into your mailbox, fill this out now.

Do you need support in identifying the blessings in your life?  Do you want a strategy to help you create a happier life?  If so, please, contact me, and we can put together an action plan for you to be authentically you and for you to create the vision you have for your life.  

 

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. ~ Charles Dickens

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