If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough – Meister Eckhart
On the journey to self-transformation and inner peace the very first step you need to take is to say, ‘Thank You’. Wake up and say ‘Thank You’ for the opportunity to live another day and to take another breath.
Gratitude and inner peace go hand in hand. For when we are grateful, everything that we have in our life suddenly becomes enough. Once we start to feel grateful for the things in our life, we will find a deep sense of calm come over us – we will start to see the beauty of what already surrounds us.
To be honest, if the only thing we ever do is to practice gratitude – that will be enough.
Here is a morning prayer from the Dalai Lama that I just love. Everyday, think as you wake up:
“Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, and I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.
We tend to get so caught up in the motion of life; the future, the past and what we want to achieve in this lifetime, that we forget to appreciate what we already have.”
I, like many of you, have witnessed poverty in under-developed worlds. The thing that struck a chord with me was that even though these communities had no money, they were all still so happy. Walking through the villages I watched on as farmers energetically ploughed the field, while big groups of women sat perched on verandas with their handi-crafts. Laughter filled the air as they went about their daily chores, and as I walked past their homes they all gave me a big enthusiastic wave of hello. Some had no arms, some had trouble walking and all of them were working long hours just to get a bowl of rice and sweet potato on the family dinner table that night. But one thing remained certain, these people were genuinely happy with the little that they had.
Whatever your situation is, don’t let the hectic pace of western society lure you into escalating to discontent. Don’t get sucked into a whirlwind of unfulfilled desires. Take the time for a little introspection and give thanks for what you do have, even if it isn’t much compared to society’s unrealistically high standards of living.
We are here on this planet, not to be recognised by others, nor to achieve extraordinary things – we are here in this life to ‘just be in the moment and appreciate it for what it is’.
The key to happiness is so simple – it lies in practicing gratitude on a daily basis. And let me tell you, incorporating gratitude into my own life (even if I’m not always successful at it) has changed me and has made me happier. I recommend it heartily.
10 Ways To Incorporate Gratitude Into Your Life
- Have a gratitude ritual: Everyday spend 20 minutes focusing on something that you are grateful for. It could be yoga, gardening, taking a walk or spending play time with the kids. Research shows, how you start your day sets the tone for the kind of day ahead, so by having a morning gratitude ritual will ensure you start your day with gratitude, positivity and self-love.
- Get in the habit of saying ‘thank you’ every morning: You are awake and with the rise of a new sun brings promise and opportunity. Open your eyes, stretch out your arms and say, ‘thank you’. You get to spend another day on this planet of life, new adventures and discoveries are yours to be had. It’s a privilege – really it is – never for a minute take it for granted.
- Start a gratitude journal: So you feel and think that you are hard done by? Nothing extraordinary happens to you! Take a few minutes every night before going to sleep to reflect on the world as a whole – now think about your own world. There is always something to be grateful for, even if it is small, find it and keep it close. Use a gratitude journal to remind you of all the good in your life. It will help make the negative things in your life seem so less important, I promise.
- Say ‘thank-you’ for your hardships: This has to be the hardest of all. Some of us are given the cruellest of hardships to deal with, but be a warrior, and fight for your survival. There are countless lessons to be learned from hardships. Take a moment to think about it. Has your experience given you the lessons which enable you to teach others? Has it made you more empathetic? Has it given you a broader view of the world? Has it made you more resilient? Maybe it has inspired you to act, fight for a cause or to help others?
- Make a gratitude board: Source out images and words that speak of gratitude. Be creative, use different colours, textures and natural fibres that make you feel good. Seeing this board on a daily basis will uplift your spirit.
- Breathe – you are alive: Take a deep breathe in and slow your mind. Focus on the gentle beating of your heart. Take a deep breath out…. feel the blood run through your veins. Feel the energetic life-force within. It’s truly miraculous when we really think about it.
- Bring things into perspective with a gratitude prayer: Whenever you are feeling a little overwhelmed or have lost hope, take a moment to sit in a quiet space and say a gratitude prayer. Bring your attention to your breathing, close your eyes and let the fresh air from outside gently kiss your skin. Now think about the world and its people. What comes to mind first? Send them love and wish them well. Do this for 15 minutes or so and you will feel refreshed and positively renewed.
- Show your appreciation to others: Sadly, many of us don’t truly know how much we are appreciated. We have become a guarded society; many of us find it difficult to express our gratitude towards others. Take a moment to send notes, cards and letters of gratitude to show your appreciation. Send a quick email or text message to someone you haven’t talked to in a while – just to show you were thinking of them.
- Make an effort to encourage or uplift someone on a daily basis. We come across people on a daily basis who have dreams and then there are also the ones who are struggling. Make an effort to listen to all of them and find a way to encourage and uplift them all – something so small can leave the biggest positive impact.
- Use daily gratitude cards: Keep a pack of gratitude cards on your desk to act as a gentle reminder that life is beautiful, and you have a lot to look forward to and be grateful for.
How To Practice Gratitude Daily
In a recent research a group of people was asked to write down five things they were grateful for everyday for one week. Even though the exercise lasted just one week, at the one-month follow-up, participants were happier and less depressed than they had been prior to participating in the research.
Writing down 3 to 5 things that you are grateful for every day will help reprogram your mind. Feeling grateful for what you have is positive ammunition against negativity.
People that live with gratitude in their heart are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their relationships and their overall lives.
The key to living with a grateful heart is remembering what you are thankful for. The best way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. When writing in your journal remember to:
Write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for every day. This will develop a positive pattern for your brain, and eventually living with gratitude will become second nature to you. Don’t worry it is very normal to have trouble coming up with items in the beginning, however once you get in the habit, it will be easy to see the beauty that surrounds you.
Be as specific as you can. It is best to pinpoint one idea and describe it in detail. Think about the reason why you are grateful for that certain thing. For example, instead of saying “I am grateful for my home” say “I am grateful for the protection and warmth that my home gives me”.
Try and turn negatives into positives. Transform your thoughts by finding the positive side of a negative situation. Instead of dwelling on the things that are not working for you, switch your focus to be more proactive. Try and think about what is good about the negative situation, choose to see the lessons behind the fog. Here are some positive perspectives on negative situations:
- I’m upset that my relationship didn’t work out, but now I have time to focus on myself. I can take the time to get to know myself better and truly figure out what I need in a partner.
- I am still unemployed, but I’m grateful that I have enough money for food and shelter.
So, it is now over to you. Think of three things from your day that you are thankful for.
Maybe you are blessed to have fresh running water. Or you were able to get a chore done without interruption
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 -Melody Beady
As the months pass and you fill your journal with blessings, an inner shift in your reality will occur. Soon you will be delighted to discover how content you are feeling. As you focus on the abundance rather than on the lack in your life, you will be designing a wonderful new blueprint for a positive and happy future.
A French proverb reminds us that “Gratitude is the heart’s memory.” Begin today to explore and integrate this beautiful, life-affirming principle into your life.
Instead of waiting for positive things to happen in your life to make you feel grateful – (this is a never-ending pursuit, as you are never completely satisfied, for you will always seek more) Become the master of your own gratitude.