photo by carf
Life can become very hectic at times and it’s easy to lose sight of what is truly important. With the ups and downs of day-to-day life, our emotions can take us on a roller coaster ride. When things are going our way and our expectation are met, we feel good. But when we lose focus and stumble off our path it’s hard not to let our frustration get the best of us.
Regardless of the valleys and hills of life, we can remain centered by using gratitude as a tool. It’s hard to be focused on all the negative aspects of your life while feeling grateful. The same applies to being grateful for people. It’s hard to think about the shortcoming of others when you’re focused on how grateful you are for them.
Gratitude helps us re-center ourselves when we’re feeling stuck and unsatisfied with our lives. It helps us gain perspective.
The real question is, how can we develop a constant state of gratitude? If gratitude becomes a habit, we’re likely to feel more joy, be at peace and have a greater enjoyment for life. In order to make an “attitude of gratitude” a habit, the most important thing is that our gratitude is independent of our circumstances.
If our gratitude is only focused on the constant ebb and flow of life, we’ll likely be incredibly grateful when things are going well. But as soon as our circumstances change, we leave ourselves open to disappointment and frustration. This is the type of gratitude that often start with “at least”; “at least I have a place to stay,” “at least I have clothes on my back,” or “at least I have a job.” This type of gratitude is a struggle to find contentment when you’re really not that happy about your life. You’re just trying to look on the bright side.
To really make gratitude a habit, we need to move to a deeper level of thankfulness. This means being grateful for things that are independent of your current position such as; existence, your breath, love, your mistakes and failures, emotions, the universe.
When we move to this level of gratitude, we may still be thankful for the things in our life, but now we’re thankful for life itself. Now we’re encompassing every facet of our lives, including the ups and downs, highs and lows. We’re no longer just thankful that we’re getting by, we’re thankful that we are alive. In this way, our gratitude is no longer dependent or attached to our position.
We don’t have to rely on things to make us grateful, because we’ve moved beyond things. Instead of trying to be grateful for things, we’re now grateful to just be.
Here are a few ways to help you make gratitude a part of your life:
1. Create rituals to remember your gratitude.
This is probably my favorite of all the methods I’ve found for cultivating gratitude. When I walk in the door to my home after work I like to silently think to myself “how wonderful it is to be home, how grateful I am to have this space where I can express myself and cultivate my creativity.”
Another great ritual to make is to make a habit of silently listing all the things you’re grateful for as soon as you wake up. I find it’s best to do this before I get out of bed. I know I’m not the only one that has a difficult time getting out of bed, so this really helps me to start my day with a feeling of joy and gratitude. This same practice can be applied at night as well and can have a great effect on your quality of sleep and dreams.
2. Journal about what you’re grateful for.
When we journal about what we’re thankful for, we’re moving our thoughts to the material. This can be a powerful process and allows us to physically see the abundance in our lives.
3. Use a gratitude rock.
Find a nice smooth rock that feels good when you hold it. Now name this rock your “gratitude rock.” Put in your pocket or purse and carry it around with you wherever you go. Whenever you reach in your pocket and feel it, remember what you’re grateful for.
You can also use any other object you like, or even a color. Whenever I see the color green it reminds me of gratitude for life and the earth. Perhaps yours is the sky. Whatever is personal and has meaning to you is most important.
If we’re simply grateful for life itself, we can be thankful even when we have nothing. Our gratitude is rooted in the permanent and not ever-changing landscape of our lives.
If we can find a way to have gratitude in each moment, our lives will improve dramatically. Begin each day and live each moment in gratitude. Watch your life transform.