"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." ~ John Kennedy
Before you continue reading, I invite you to pause for a bit and do the following exercise:
Close your eyes and think about one thing, or person, or circumstance in your life that you are grateful for. Picture it and really allow yourself to bask in that feeling of gratitude. Let it melt in you! Really embrace that sensation for a few seconds, with your eyes closed.
Then when you feel ready, take a deep breath and open your eyes.
Do you notice any change in your state of mind? Does your body feel more relaxed?
If this is your first time doing this exercise, perhaps you found it a bit challenging and couldn’t think of anything to be grateful for, or perhaps you really enjoyed it and now you want to do it more often. Double Yay!
Whatever the case, gratitude puts everything into perspective.
When practiced often, gratitude helps you to acknowledge where you are right now in your life and appreciate what you do have, even if you think you still have a long way to go before completing that project, or taking that dream trip, or changing jobs/career, etc
We sometimes get caught up in the things that are not working, or focused on what is lacking in our lives. But in order to manifest “more” it’s important that we recognize what we already have and what is available to us.
We shape our future by how we choose to live our present. The past has led you to where you are now, and the now will also influence your future.
However, when we focus only on what is ahead of us or the things we want to do in the future - we miss the opportunity of really being in the moment and embracing what is, right here, right now.
The choice of looking at what we already have, gives us a sense of peace and also freedom.
We realize that we can still have goals and dreams while also feeling gratitude for what we’ve accomplished, how far we’ve come, and even to the people or things around us that bring joy into our lives.
Perhaps you’re not where you want to be (yet), or have not accomplished all the things you want to accomplish, but you can find peace with the current situation while working towards your desires. You also allow yourself to feel free when you’re not so attached to the outcomes or to the possible future wins.
As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground”.
When I catch myself being frustrated at something, my awareness helps me to stop the frenetic thoughts and look at the bigger picture. Perhaps there are many missing pieces, many more steps to take, many more problems to solve, but I can choose right now to focus on what is going right for me while allowing myself to work through what I want to achieve or get better at. Just allowing myself to be, right here, right now, the way I am, wherever I am at.
If you’re wondering why gratitude is so important, or what it can do for you, I encourage you to really explore what you are grateful for in your life, so that you can get some positive emotions swirling and raise your vibration. It will also help you to get clearer about where you want to focus your creative energy.
Test it out for yourself, make it a part of your routine, or every time you feel a sense of lack. See how that transforms you and the way you perceive life.
A good way to create the habit is to do the gratitude exercise when you’re lying in bed at night or when you wake up in the morning. Count your blessings. Think about a few things you’re grateful for that day and why you’re grateful for them. For example, if I think “I am so grateful for this bed, BECAUSE it makes me FEEL warm, comfortable, relaxed, blessed.” etc
When we get more specific - like in the example above - it creates a deeper sensation of gratitude in us than just the general listing, because it helps us to connect with the feelings that are important to us and to better understand what brings us more fulfillment.
Don’t be surprised if you get a good night’s sleep when you do the gratitude exercise right before bed. It can also help you to start your day on the right foot when do it before getting out of bed in the morning.
It can be difficult to do at first if you’re not used it, but once you start seeing the changes in your own daily life - the ability of being more present, the feeling of having enough, the mindset to attract more abundance, the joy of connecting with yourself and others - this practice will naturally become a part of you and you’ll realize that it will be easier to find reasons to be grateful for.
My Reiki Teacher and friend - Yolanda Williams - said the following in one of her recent blog posts:
“Live as one who is free, not as one in fear. Start each day in freedom, with a heart full of gratitude for all that is seen and unseen.
Carry on in full appreciation for life, itself. Live.”
May you feel the freedom and peace in your heart, mind and soul.