Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness – emotion expressing appreciation for what one has; as opposed to, for example a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants. Such a strong word with a really powerful meaning. But do we really know how to be grateful for everything that we have in life? Unfortunately, no. Nowadays, a lot of people don’t appreciate what they have in life, not just material things. People, food, memories – those are also ‘things’ that we should be thankful for, but we are not. I was always thankful for all the material things I got from my parents or for my birthday. But I was never aware of how many beautiful things I actually have around me. They are actually very small things, but they mean a lot to me and I bet they probably mean a world to somebody else too.
You’re probably telling yourself that you are thankful for everything that you have, but are you really? Think of everything that you own right now, all the people who are loving and supporting you, all the memories you’ve experienced in life. There are thousands of things you probably own and know about, but you’ve never probably shown your gratitude towards them. It’s not easy to thank for something, especially if you weren’t raised in that way, but you can learn how to be more grateful. I will give you three examples of expressing your thankfulness towards everything that’s happening in your life.
First thing is gratitude jar. I made myself a gratitude jar two years ago and I love this idea. It’s one of the most effective and amazing things I’ve ever done in my life. You don’t need much to create it: a jar, colorful pens, little pieces of paper (they can be colorful as well) and that’s pretty much it. You can decorate your jar as you want, totally in your way. You can write something on it, add a quote, pictures, stickers – literally as you wish. You’re probably asking yourself, why do you need a jar for expressing your gratitude. Well, the idea behind this is that you write what you’re grateful for every single day. You can sit down at the end of the day and write something that you are grateful for in that day. And try to be very specific. New year is coming in less than 2 months and you can start filling up your jar on the 1st of January. And when the year is over, you’ll have 365 memories from that year for which you’ll be thankful for. Try it, it’s truly amazing!
The next thing, which is very effective as well, is the gratitude journal. I’ve started practicing it a few weeks ago and I think it’s very efficient way to feel thankful for small things and moments that happen in your life. You can write it in the morning or in the evening, it depends on when you have more time. But it doesn’t take a lot of the time, just a few minutes. It’s all about regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which you are thankful. And it’s life-changing, believe me. It has positive effects on health: better sleep, stronger immune system, you feel more alive, you feel positive and have more positive emotions, you express more compassion and kindness, you become more optimistic, you have more energy and feel happier. It also strengthens
relationships and reduces stress. There are a lot of positive effects of expressing gratitude and I can write you all about why they have such an amazing effect on you and your life, but it’s not what I want to tell you about. The point is that gratitude puts situations into perspective – you see the good as well as the bad. So, if you’re in a bad situation, rather than complaining about it and being stuck at the same point longer period of time, stop and think about all the good that you can get out of that situation and how to overcome that state. It probably sounds complicated, because I like to philosophise, but I hope you get it.
So, with this gratitude journal, it’s important that you focus on new things that you are grateful for every single day and that you freshen up your thanks. Try to be as specific as you can be and try to focus on things that are right in front of you. Also, focus gratitude on people for whom you’re thankful rather than circumstances or material things.
The last, but not least, is gratitude letter. This is more direct and very specific way of showing gratitude to someone. It’s meant to be written to a special person of yours, for somebody that has helped you or that has been there for you when you needed him or her the most. It can be for your mother, father, your siblings, friend, teacher, boyfriend or girlfriend, anybody that you want to express your gratitude to. Describe in detail what he or she did for you and exactly how it affected your life; mention how you often remember his or her efforts. You can maybe visit that special person and read it out loud or just send it to him or her.
We usually connect gratitude for momentous occasions, such as birthday or promotion at work, but you can also be thankful for something as simple as a piece of cake. Gratitude helps us realize what we have in life, besides all the material things we possess.
There are a lot of people out there, who have less than we have and they appreciate those things more than we do. And they are happy. I love this quote: “Be thankful for what you have. No matter how bad you may think it is, your life is someone else’s fairytale.” You don’t know how amazing your life is and how thankful you can be that you own one. Having clean water, food, warm home, loving people, education has become so ordinary that we don’t even think about how lucky we actually are that we have all these amazing things. But we are not conscious of everything that surround us. And we should be. As I already said before, it’s not about all the material things we have, because they don’t give a value to somebody’s life. It’s about people, memories, little things, special moments and we should be grateful for the opportunity to be alive, to live this one life that we were given. Don’t take it for granted.
Until next time,