Do you want the recipe for being happy? Rich in body, mind and soul? The secret ingredient for having a successful life and long, loving relationships?
Practice gratitude. Be grateful for what you have. Appreciate your friendships. Cherish your accomplishments. Take a deep breath and feel your body fill with air. Be grateful to be alive. In this world, right now, here.
Being grateful and practicing gratitude is the number one factor people attribute to their successes. No matter what book you pick up, what biography you read, it’s almost invariably there.
Yes, hard work, discipline, consistency and dedication are important factors, too. But gratitude, deep and profound appreciation for what you have and for who you are is one of the secret ingredients to a fulfilled and happy life.
As Melody Beattie says:
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Gratitude gives you power. It makes you strong. It’s the difference between being the victim of your circumstances and taking responsibility for your life. Feeling appreciation instead of blame, thankfulness instead of resentment. It’s a choice we make every instance of our lives.
Gratitude makes you healthy. It opens your heart, it makes you happier and puts a spark into your eyes. A study conducted by Robert Emmons, professor at the University of California at Davis shows that practicing grateful thinking “reaps emotional, physical and interpersonal benefits.” People who regularly keep a gratitude journal report fewer illness symptoms, feel better about their lives as a whole, and are more optimistic about the future.
My tip: Put gratitude first. Find things to be grateful for now and don’t wait for something amazing to happen in your life, a reason to be thankful for. It’s a shift of awareness. From outward to inward, from looking for fault in the world out there to finding the power to love inside of you. As Nelson Mandela quotes in the movie Invictus: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” (Original quote by William Ernest Henley)
There are many exercises online that can help you practice gratitude.
I want to share with you this simple one that I practice with my daughter every night before she goes to bed. We ask each other for three things that we are grateful for that day. These can be big or small, significant or insignificant. Anything that makes us feel thankful counts.
I started this ritual to make her aware of the blessings we have in our lives and was surprised to see with how much enthusiasm she embraced it. Often it has been her who reminded me: “Mom, we still have to do the gratitude thing. What is it that you are grateful for today?”
Count your blessings. Do it often.
Thanks for being in my life.
Photo Source: PinkSherbet via Flickr under a Creative Commons License