The True Meaning of Gratitude
Gratitude quite simply means looking at what you already have and feeling thankful about it. Many think only of material possessions and if they didn’t have ‘enough’ of these, they let any thoughts of gratefulness slip away only too easily. The very fact that they are waiting to have something more than what they already do in order to be grateful will make this never happen. People who live like this fail to realize that their very existence is a gift. Furthermore, we have been given an exalted existence in comparison with other forms of life for we are able to think and follow our will as opposed to animals and lesser life-forms which merely live instinctively. It would be presumptuous to make oneself believe that he or she already deserved such a standing because before existence there is no basis for deserving anything in the first place. It is better to acknowledge your being here on this Earth in all humility and try to establish the true purpose of your existence. All of this starts with the attitude of gratitude.
Images of Gratitude
Gratitude often is properly understood or grasped and internalized only when seeing others reflect that feeling or emotion towards you when you happen to do something that makes them happy or alleviates their suffering or distress.
Being grateful brings about patience and a feeling of compassion for others which in turn drives us to be helpful toward one another and in the end this is what really matters. Always take time to sit back and take in the bigger picture of how things impact you and figure out how you can make a beneficial contribution for all.
Instead of focusing on what you want, start with genuinely seeing what you have now. The more you shrink the list of the things that you want and expand the list of the things that you have, the more you will approach a state of serenity that is deep-seated which engulfs your whole being. For example, think of the following that you might have (maybe it never occurred to you as significant or you simply were not thinking) :
- Your sight and hearing as well as your faculty of speech
- Your ability to taste and enjoy food as well as feel the cool breeze on your skin
- Your mobility : the use of your hands, arms and legs to take you wherever you want
- Your personal possessions : car, house, land, equipment (…goods and chattel)
- Your relationships : mother, father, child, spouse, grandparents, uncle, aunts, extended family, friends, neighbours, co-workers, employer and so on
- Your job, workplace, educational institution and status, opportunities received, people and chances met, help received
- Your surroundings : neighbourhood, colourful city, nature, places visited/travelled
- Your engaging activities : sports, arts, culture, music, social work and leadership
Do you think of these as your birth-right? If so, why are there so many people without sight, hearing, wealth and possessions? Many times, it was already the way they were born and they had no control over it. Hence it is much wiser to have the quality of gratitude to guide you through the landscapes of life and a deep appreciation of the present moment.
Daily Gratitude Exercises
How do you go about being grateful every day? Here are some things you can do on a daily basis :
- Thank one person every day who has contributed in your life in whatever way, big or small( if you are not able to do this personally, spend a minute in contemplation)
- Give away something every day in whatever proportion, big or small, even if it is only a smile. Occasionally, part with a tiny portion of your wealth if it will feed someone
- Help someone accomplish something every day even if it were just to give way in traffic
- Relieve another’s burden each day even if you only had a kind word to say
- Feel yourself everyday(literally) – touch your eyes, ears, mouth, arms and legs and spend some time in introspection – and ask if you have done more harm than good with those
The Gratitude Journal
Psychology and self-help experts have shown us that there are numerous benefits in writing down goals and plans in our life. Similarly, having a regularly written version of the things that we are grateful for has tremendously positive effects on the psyche. The gratitude journal is a popular practice to implement this. Pen a gratitude journal where you can add notes of gratitude if possible every day of your life. The more you add to this list, the more you will see what you have to thank for. Re-visit this list on the days you feel there is little going for you.
Here is a 3-day sample you can start with :
|DATE||On this day, I am grateful for :|
|(1)||01 Jan 2014||Having recovered from a bad fever|
|(2)||02 Jan 2014||Being able to give a goodies bag to a homeless person|
|(3)||03 Jan 2014||Having enjoyed a great dinner with the family|
I shall always be happy if I am always grateful
Better yet, create an online gratitude journal that you can update without miss whenever and wherever you are on your computer or mobile phone. It will serve as a powerful antidote.
A Poem of GratitudeCredit: Public Domain
In the falling of leaves
And whispers of the breeze
There is a place for me;
In the gliding of sunlight around mountainous curves
And the birth of dawn on those green turfs
There is a place for me;
In the warmth of day
Amid glistening shadows in the bay
There is a place for me;
In the expanse of the Universe and majesty of the skies
Within the Grand Scheme of the Creator
There has always been a place for me;
Why then do we feud...,
Have we been consumed by ingratitude?
(A Poem of Gratitude, Naxem 2014)
The Link between Gratitude and Abundance
Abundance, or simply, having it all, is the aspiration of maybe every human being on Earth. Only, we fail to realize that it has to start with us being grateful in every sense of the word. Gratitude is directly linked to abundance. Why is this so ? It's because when you feel you have everything then you are feeling abundance itself and only this feeling of abundance around you can attract more of the same. Hence, gratitude is the foundation of abundance. Contentment and a positively upbeat attitude with your lot in life creates the set of thoughts, beliefs and actions that will spur you to further success.