Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Gratitude

The theme for last weeks journal entry was gratitude. I decided to start of by looking at what 'Gratitude' meant. The dictionary supplied;
"'Gratitude' noun. The quality of being grateful or thankful."
Whereas 'Grateful' was described as 'Appreciative of benefits received' 'Expressing Gratitude' and 'Affording pleasure or comfort; agreeable'

I looked at my own life to see if I was 'appreciative of benefits received'. That would be a no. I easily and almost purposely looked over or let the disasters of the day shadow to joys. And I do it in life too. So what makes a person grateful? Is it a natural trait, or something that can be learned, nurtured with practice?


I turned to the internet,finding articles and discussions on TED Talks (which is an incredible site, by the way!) by David Steindl-Rast. He teaches that our whole lives are a gift, a gift we should be grateful for. That each breath we take, is not something we have earnt, or deserve, it is a gift that has been given, and at any moment be taken away. That it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.

'We should each moment as precious, and a great opportunity' - David Steindl-Rast

It reminded me that though I am frustrated at being stuck at home, I should be seeing it as a gift. I have a big pile of books I can finally get through - guilt free - I can draw and sketch and write. I can't change this chapter of my life, but I can make the best of it.

I found an incredible website, with endless articles on Gratitude, many written by Robert Emmons, the leading psychology expert on Gratitude. You can find the website Here. One of his articles was a list of ways to make you grateful. They are as follows:

10 Tips to Grateful Living
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal. Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy. Setting aside time on a daily basis to recall moments of gratitude associated with ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life gives you the potential to interweave a sustainable life theme of gratefulness.
2. Remember the Bad. To be grateful in your current state, it is helpful to remember the hard times that you once experienced. When you remember how difficult life used to be and how far you have come, you set up an explicit contrast in your mind, and this contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness.
3. Ask Yourself Three Questions. Utilize the meditation technique known as Naikan, which involves reflecting on three questions: “What have I received from __?”, “What have I given to __?”, and “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”
4. Learn Prayers of Gratitude. In many spiritual traditions, prayers of gratitude are considered to be the most powerful form of prayer, because through these prayers people recognize the ultimate source of all they are and all they will ever be.
5. Come to Your Senses.Through our senses. The ability to touch, see, smell, taste, and hear—we gain an appreciation of what it means to be human and of what an incredible miracle it is to be alive. Seen through the lens of gratitude, the human body is not only a miraculous construction, but also a gift.
6. Use Visual Reminders.Because the two primary obstacles to gratefulness are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness, visual reminders can serve as cues to trigger thoughts of gratitude. Often times, the best visual reminders are other people.
7. Make a Vow to Practice Gratitude. Research shows that making an oath to perform a behavior increases the likelihood that the action will be executed. Therefore, write your own gratitude vow, which could be as simple as “I vow to count my blessings each day,” and post it somewhere where you will be reminded of it every day.
8. Watch your Language. Grateful people have a particular linguistic style that uses the language of gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance. In gratitude, you should not focus on how inherently good you are, but rather on the inherently good things that others have done on your behalf.
9. Go Through the Motions. If you go through grateful motions, the emotion of gratitude should be triggered. Grateful motions include smiling, saying thank you, and writing letters of gratitude.
10. Think Outside the Box. If you want to make the most out of opportunities to flex your gratitude muscles, you must creatively look for new situations and circumstances in which to feel grateful.
I have been doing the majority of them, and have succeeded in keeping an account of the things that have made me grateful that day, no matter how small, spending time with my mother or a friend, enjoying a particular meal. I have also been trying to enjoy the moment while I am in it. To say out loud I am grateful, to thank the person who has cooked me a meal or taken time out of their day to see me.
I put up pictures of friends and memories that make me smile on my wall, so that everyday I see all the wonderful things I have to be grateful for, friends met, adventures had. So far, I can honestly say that it has been helping, as each evening I am writing each moment I had that day to be thankful for, and it doesn't take long for those moments to out weigh the moments I'd rather not have happened. Those moments only make the blessed ones shine brighter.

And I pledge to remember to savour each delicious moment as they are gifted to me. To live deeply and gratefully. To soak my soul in senses and remind myself how blessed I am to have been given the gift of Life.


 What is it that makes you grateful...?


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