In the spirit of the season of giving thanks, the topic-of-the-month (totally a made-up thing) is gratitude.
Let’s talk about the importance of gratitude in our lives. And it is important. Most people run around worrying about what they don’t have, when it’s so easy to be happy with what we do have.
Yep, it’s that good.
What makes gratitude special? Look at it this way: if we can be happy and fulfilled with what we have, that eliminates 99% of all our worries.
Try it! Pick 3 things in your vicinity right now that you could be grateful for. Maybe the chair you’re sitting on or your mug of coffee. And feel a sense of gratitude for that object.
Gratitude is actively accepting what already is (after all, how could it be any other way?). Different from the neurotic, who is always going from one thing to the next in pursuit of happiness. You see this a lot in business and finance: people wanting MORE without giving thanks for what they’ve got.
My favorite way to practice gratitude comes from Tony Robbins on a podcast he did with Tim Ferriss. He runs the audience through an exercise of gratitude.
Here’s how it goes:
– Eyes closed, pump your arms up and down synchronized with your breathing to energize your body.
- Put your hands over your heart. Feel it beating. Feel its strength, its power. Breathe into your heart.
- Choose something in your life that you could be so grateful for, from earlier today to 10 years ago, doesn’t matter. Feel into your heart. Feel how you felt back in that moment, then feel gratitude for that moment.
- Choose a second moment or person or coincidence that you could feel grateful for. Feel into your heart.
- Choose a third. Feel and breathe into your heart. Notice how good gratitude feels.
- Pause with that feeling for as long as you want.
- Breathe into your heart 3 times and open your eyes.
Here’s the link to the exercise: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2016/09/18/how-to-resolve-internal-conflict/
I love doing this if I’m feeling a bit down. Another way to practice if you’re pressed for time is just journaling: 5 things I can be grateful for right now. Boom. I like to include something simple near me in the list.
So what some of you are probably saying is “But I have nothing to be grateful for! My girlfriend left me, I’m broke, and my dog just died!”
You have a body, don’t you?
Start by being grateful for that. You have a body that functions, that allows you to inhabit this Earth and experience this wonderful blue ball we call home.
Be grateful for being born in a time when so much is available to us: all of human knowledge at our fingertips, opportunities to explore and experience the world in ways that would’ve blown our ancestor’s minds!
Be grateful for modern medicine: most people in history died from a little flu. Now we can numb and operate on your eye.
Think of all the comforts we now have. It’s literally freezing outside and my house is warm enough that I can wear shorts.
Another way to feel an immense feeling of gratitude: nature. Go into a forest or a desert and get a huge sense of awe and stupendousness at the beauty and intelligence of a whole living system.
Still you’re broke you say? Have you eaten today? There you go.
Most people don’t give gratitude enough credit. Not only is it an easy ticket to happiness, but it also is a form of practicing abundance. If you’re happy with what you’ve got, that sets you up well for giving. Shifts your perspective from getting to giving.
Don’t practice gratitude to get anything out of it. Do it to for its own sake. Gratitude is your natural state, neurotic chasing the next thing is not.
Hopefully this motivates you around that Thanksgiving table (if you celebrate Thanksgiving) to be grateful for and love all that you have.