This is a guest post, by the beautiful Donna Higton. Donna is a coach and brilliant blogger. You can immerse yourself in her heartfelt articles on her DonnaOnTheBeach blog.
It’s a funny thing, gratitude. It’s one of those things you know you really “should” feel, but sometimes we just don’t feel grateful at all, we feel ill-used by life. Why should you feel grateful when life sucks? What if you feel you have nothing to be grateful for? Should you try it anyway? Yes, because gratitude is a joyful feeling…and who doesn’t need more joy in their lives?
But it can take practice to really feel gratitude. Firstly you grudgingly tell yourself “yeah, yeah, I’m grateful for X”, while not feeling even vaguely grateful. Over time though, you start to get a glimpse of a feeling that can put a smile on your face in a moment. And then you really get the feeling of being thankful and appreciative and fortunate—a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart.
When I first began a gratitude practice, I found it so difficult—one of my first coaches set me the task of finding five things a day to be grateful for, and every day I struggled. For a few months, I found myself taking half an hour at least to think of something to be grateful for (and often it was accompanied by a negative postscript—for example, I am grateful to have a job, even though I hate it!).
I can barely believe that now—without even moving my head, I can see and feel and hear 17 things to be grateful for—the glass of clean water I am drinking, the laptop I am working on, the music that’s helping me write (and sometimes dance!), the inspiration that’s flowing through me, the heater that is keeping my feet toasty warm, the incredible abundance of stationary I have available to me, and more…
What changed? Simply, for me, it was practice. After a few months of begrudging and time-consuming gratitude, I found it started to get easier, and I started to notice things to be grateful for when they happened, not 12 hours later. It took less time, I even found myself listing six, seven or even ten things some days to be grateful for. More, I started to “feel” it–to feel that I had a lot to appreciate.
I started to add a positive postscript to my daily gratitudes–for example, “I am grateful for my car because she gives me the freedom to go wherever I want safely and easily.” This intensified the good feelings, and I started to look forward to my gratitude practice. After a year of the practice, I found it easy to think of ten things every day, and because it felt good, I carried it on for another six months.
That was about eight years ago. Now, I don’t keep a formal list, but occasionally, when I notice myself feeling grumpy about life, I remind myself to look around and notice everything I have to be grateful for. It instantly changes my energy and my mood and I realize I am blessed in a thousand different ways. Try it now. Look around you and notice what you have to be grateful for.
We have so much in our lives, and yet we are constantly bombarded with messages that we are incomplete, that we don’t have enough, that what we need is more, better, bigger, newer, upgraded, whizzier and faster. To insulate us against this onslaught of incompleteness, we need to remember how lucky we are—to have air in our lungs, food in our cupboards, so many possessions that clutter clearing is now an industry! We need to remember how to appreciate.
Not because it makes you a good person, not because it’s a good thing to do, but because it feels good! Never mind that it’s something people tell you that you should do/feel, do it because it’s something that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart!
Donna is a life coach, writer, teacher and is currently immersed in a hundred ideas for products to help people fall head over heels in love with their lives! Donna works with women who have lost their mojo to help them rediscover their zest for life and bring the big dreams hiding in their heart out to play! You can find out more about Donna on her website, or join her on Facebook and Twitter.