“Social scientists have found that the fastest way to feel happiness is to practice gratitude.” Chip Conley
It would be fair to say that for a long time, maybe many years, I was a miserable old chap. I should have taken notice when a close friend gave me a T-shirt with “Grumpy Old Man” printed on it but I just took it as a joke. I was far too deep in the thick muck of my sad story to notice the light hearted attempt to try and wake me up!
I needed to swap misery for happiness – so I befriended gratitude
I felt like I was living a life that I had not designed and I did not even feel like I had a lead role in it. When I finally decided take back control I realised I was disconnected and unhappy. I needed to accept where I was and what I had. I was actually in a really great place and I could only move forward when I realised this.
Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle
As I started to lean into my daily meditation practice, the concept of gratitude kept coming up. As I explored my life and the reasons to be grateful I realised that the practice of gratitude is a powerful tool for personal growth. I found that I not only had a great life but that I was exactly where I needed to be. My problem had been that I was just looking at life through the wrong lens. I wanted what I didn’t have and didn’t see what was already in front of me.
Being grateful meant being present and accountable.
The process of practicing gratitude daily meant that I was just so much more present in the moment. It’s a powerful life hack because it meant I was on the lookout for the little things I could be grateful for. I started to pay more attention to the people in my life, to the things I did and to what was happening around me. I had come full circle.
Through that process I managed to let go of a lot of baggage by turning the crap of the past into lessons for now. I had a sense of where I really didn’t want to end up again and an appreciation for where I was. Gratitude became one of the five guiding principles in my aim of living a more authentic and happy life.
When I was in boarding school I used to pooh-pooh our daily Grace before dinner. It was just done as a matter of course and I didn’t appreciate or understand the wisdom in the practice. Today though, that is different, I am one of those guys who likes to say grace and I keep a gratitude journal.
I have given myself the opportunity to take stock in a way that is positive and developmental. Rather than beating myself up on the things that didn’t go to plan I recognise what has worked. I look for the things I can learn from and I appreciate the good things in me and in my life. I appreciate the little things that I used to take for granted or didn’t even notice.
Being grateful applies to oneself as much as everything else
Research professor Brené Brown talks about how the ability to love oneself is a precursor to the ability to love others. I have found that in gratitude I have been able to accept my shortcomings and even start loving myself. The real magic then is in seeing how that so positively affected my relationships too. I am now closer to my family and friends and I enjoy my work so much more too. Life is fun again!
“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
It is amazing how such a simple focus in life can bring such beautiful change. Some say that gratitude is selfish but in my experience – it is the opposite, it frees us to to be more giving. I wish we could all live a little more of the cliché “an attitude of gratitude”. To be thankful for the roof over my head, the people who love and care for me and the life I have has made me want to give so much more of myself.
When last did you say thanks for the good in your life and allow yourself to love yourself for being exactly who you are?
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” Epictetus
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Thank you for taking the time to read my post. If you have any thoughts or feedback, I’d love to hear from you.
I am passionate about change, personal development and the inner journey – doing things differently. In my spare time I work on my own personal growth journey, write Haiku poetry, practice and teach mindfulness and try to live a more authentic and present life.
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