Like many people I’ve spoken with, you’re likely grateful and cautiously relieved that the Covid-19 experience is moving behind us, and pre-pandemic life is resuming. Hopefully, you feel that gratitude in your life for this unfolding good. Gratitude is a way to acknowledge the good things in life that are here now and yet to come. When we express gratitude in any form, our minds are enlightened, making us feel happier.
Gratitude is one of the most researched topics and may well be one of the most powerful. When we are thankful, we engage in a sacred practice that enlivens our spirits, helps us see from a broader perspective, opens our hearts, and fills us with awe and wonder. We are more appreciative of what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t have in our lives and our world.
In regular times, most of us at least casually express thanks and gratitude. But if we want to add rocket fuel to boost the power of gratitude in our life, we can become more intentional in our gratitudinal practices. Most of them are common sense and I’m sure you've heard them before. But common sense does not always translate into everyday practice. So here are reminders of some common-sense practices that we can use to develop higher levels of gratitude and increase the likelihood that the energy of appreciation and positivity sticks in our life.
1. Be aware of your complaints. We can’t have an attitude of gratitude and complain simultaneously. So we want to be conscious of the number of times we complain and what we are complaining about. Complaining causes the leakage of positive energy and weakens our gratitude muscles. A helpful practice to overcome the inclination to complain is to challenge yourself to stop complaining about anything for 21 days. A transformation will take place. (Note: Be aware of that 20th day; it’s the danger zone.)
2. Cross out gossip. Contrary to many folks' beliefs, gossip is not a spiritual gift. Some individuals believe that they are gifted to get the "411" on others. But it's not a gift. It's a blight on consciousness. Gossip can edge out those things that are truly meaningful. Our life can transform when we cross out gossip and add appreciation.
3. Read about significant historical figures. We often weaken our gratitude muscles when we lose perspective. Reading history and the people who were part of it helps us look beyond our luxuries and grievances and see how much there is to appreciate. One of my favorite historical figures is Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 unjust years in a South African prison, and when he was released had not an ounce of bitterness. Eventually he became president of the country that imprisoned him.
4. Be of service. When we serve others, it benefits the server. When we go and help others less well off than us, we are uplifted. While this may not be the intent, there is something powerful about the positive energy of giving. Others get the copy; we keep the original.
5. Pay attention to the seemingly small things. Our reverence for life increases when we take the time to notice and share with others the seeming coincidences, small blessings, and delightful moments of our day-to-day experiences.
6. Write love notes. A friend who thought this was a crazy idea wrote a letter of appreciation to someone he cared about. At the time, he wasn't doing well physically, emotionally, or spiritually. But he said the moment he wrote a short note of gratitude and appreciation, he instantly felt better. Verifiable scientific studies have shown that the simple act of writing an appreciative note causes the writer to experience things from a more uplifted emotional place. Such persons feel greater depths of gratitude when they write these love notes.
Try out one or more of these practices, and you will develop a higher level of appreciation in your life. You will strengthen your gratitude muscle. As you do, you will tap into and reap the benefits of the transforming power of gratitude every day of your life.
Peace and Blessings,