Conscious Gratitude - 7 Easy Ways to Create Abundance
Updated: 1 day ago
What if.... you had the chance to experience better health, better sleep, less anxiety, more life satisfaction? Or... you could spend every day feeling like your life is overflowing with blessings - even when the going gets tough? You want it right? Well... it's attainable through the simple practice of daily gratitude...... Ok... so I might have been exaggerating when I said 'simple'. For many, finding things to feel gratitude for is an incredibly challenging process, made more difficult if you're doing it under the fog of anxiety, depression, poor health, exhaustion.... etc etc. Under such conditions, our attention is so often focused on what's wrong, on what we're not getting, on what's lacking in our lives, that we miss valuable opportunities to see the gifts that do exist all around us. We fall prey to feeling like victims instead of victors. But like all challenges, it only takes you to make a single step in that direction. The practice of conscious gratitude, once started, will bring you such a feeling of joy and abundance that you will be hungry for more.
The more you practice gratitude, the more you will have things to feel grateful for.
Why conscious gratitude? Well, when I began to practice gratitude on a daily basis, I realised that I had to make a conscious effort to 'look' for things to be grateful for. Conscious practice meant taking everything I heard and saw, and turning it into something that enhanced my life in some way. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not happiness that promotes feelings of gratitude. Rather it’s gratitude that brings us happiness. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more you are likely to attract things to be grateful for. When I began to consciously practice gratitude, there was a sense that I was walking through life with my eyes and ears open for the first time. My heart centre began to feel fuller. Where had I been up until now? How had I missed all the wonder and beauty that existed all around me?
In 2014, my 30yr marriage was coming to and end, and in 2016 I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Yet in spite of the adversity I faced, my life continued to feel full of blessings. Nothing was shaking me. In a sense, embarking on a gratitude journey was akin to finding the blessings in all situations. There are hidden treasures buried in the worst of situations. So why do so many struggle with feeling gratitude? Personally I believe it's because we want instant gratification these days. We're lazy about effort. Psychologist James Clear says that it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behaviour, the person, and the circumstances.
So..... generating a deep sense of conscious gratitude requires conscious sustained effort. Every step towards permanent habitual positive 'change' in your life begins with just that... the first step. Having practiced conscious gratitude for some years now, I've ceased 'looking' for blessings in my life. Now I simply see wonder and beauty all around me without trying, and I remember to keep expressing my gratitude for it. Gratitude has become a habitual response to life itself. THE BEGINNINGS OF GRATITUDE
"The Gratitude Letter - Thank You. I Love You. I'm Sorry. I Forgive You." I first embarked on a journey towards deep heartfelt gratitude in 2013. It bagan with a letter. Well, 20 letters to be precise. Handwritten letters to people who had touched my life in some way. Family, friends, colleagues. In each letter I spoke of love, of my gratitude for gifts they had bought to my life, apologies I needed to make for actions or deeds that may have hurt them in some way. Powerful messages shouting I love you. I'm sorry. I forgive you. Thank you. Handwritten letters make messages of gratitude more powerful. Handwritten notes have permanence. Many recipients of my gratitude letters tell me that they still read their letter occasionally. In times when they may be feeling down, my messages of love and gratitude remind them that they have made a difference in someone else's life. And now I'm uplifted knowing I made a difference in theirs. Truly, gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving.
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is life wrapping a gift and not giving it. - William Arthur Ward
When I mailed my letters of love and gratitude, it felt as though I was floating on a cloud. Originally thinking I was doing this for the benefit of "others" the joy I felt in my own heart was all-encompassing. I expected nothing in return, yet the response was immediate. My mother phoned, crying, telling me they were "words a mother longs to hear". Her's was a letter particularly challenging to write, as we had been estranged for many years. With shaking hands gripped tightly around the pen, I wrote .. "Thank you for loving me unconditionally, and for keeping the light shining on the path in readiness for me to find my way back home again". While I still struggled under the weight of 'forgiveness', I was willing to move in that direction. Writing a letter of gratitude to my mother required me to push my ego out of it's strong-hold around my heart. To abandon the need to be right, and the need to hear "I'm sorry" spoken from her lips.
“I’m too grateful to be hateful. I am too blessed to be stressed.” – El DeBarge
No matter how bad you believe your relationship to be with a particular person, there is always something you can acknowledge as a blessing they brought to your life. If you can't think of anything nice they've bought to your life, then consider how they interact with the community around them. Do they have a warm smile, great cooking skills, an intelligence that you find admiral? We need to get out of the habit of thinking gratitude is only about what we're 'getting'. In the instance of my mother, I was able to thank her filling our childhood with laughter. For teaching me, by her example, about extending a hand to those less fortunate. And I was grateful for her words of wisdom on all matters - a fact I didn't fully value until I was older.
The Ripple Effect As with all good deeds, there's a ripple effect to gratitude. After receiving his letter, my father told me his view on the meaning of life had changed. That's powerful stuff. The gratitude letter inspired him to reach out to his old friend to deliver his own message of gratitude for their years of friendship. On hearing that the friend had been estranged from his son, my father helped re-unite them. A few weeks later, his friend died. We simply can't know the impact we're having when we express gratitude. But you can be assured, a ripple effect is a powerful consequence. Years later another recipient told me she still reads her letter when she's feeling down on herself. It reminds her she made a difference in somebody's life and lifts her heart once again. Yogi's would have us believe the path to happiness is through service to others. When I'm not sure I'm 'serving', I remember how much joy I bring to other's simply by expressing gratitude.
"The Gratitude Jar - Opening Your Heart to the Gifts All Around You" I was so inspired by the responses I recieved from my letters, I decided to take the journey of gratitude a step further. In 2014, I made a post on Facebook, declaring that I would start a gratitude jar. Many people thought it a great idea, yet struggled to believe they would be capable of such an endeavour. Again, it's not about simply feeling grateful for what you 'get'. It's about opening your eyes and hearts to the beauty all around you. Gratitude is sometimes found in the most unlikely of places. Are you up for the challenge? Are you keen to have a life that feels full to overflowing even when adversity taps on your shoulder?Here's some tips to start you on this most wondrous journey into a happier fuller life.
Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you practice gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to be grateful for. - Zig Ziglar
Perspective is Everything When our attention is so focused on what's wrong, on what we're not getting, on what's missing, we miss valuable opportunities to see the gifts being presented. Conscious gratitude requires a shift in perspective. Does the rose bush have annoying thorns attached? Or does the thorn have a beautiful rose accompanying it? Expressing gratitude is also not about being grateful to have something because another is missing out. For instance, you would not say "I'm grateful for this meal because there are starving people in Africa". Your gain should not be on the back of someone's misfortune. While that might sound selfish, when you are filled with gratitude, and by extension love, for all the blessings you have, for everything that fills your life and your heart with joy, you will develop a desire to give more to your community. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. When I looked back over the things I'd placed in my gratitude jar, it was like reading a personal diary, and the memories flooded me yet again with gratitude. I decided to be creative by writing on decorative or coloured paper, or I took photos of things I was grateful for. Being creative with my gratitude jar entries added a heightened sense of joy. Here's some examples on how I approach conscious gratitude ........
When I walk along the waterfront near my home, my ears are open to the sound of children laughing and playing. I'm grateful children have reasons to laugh, oblivious as they are to the challenges of adult life.
When my son was 14, he had a job at the local golf club, parking buggies. One day in the pouring rain, I helped him with the task. We were soaked, yet we squealed with laugher . I was not only grateful to have shared this special moment with my son, but also grateful to be childlike again. Oh what joy to be taken back to the reckless abandonment of youth.
Walking for daily exercise, I pay attention to everything in nature. Everything. And then I'm grateful to be surrounded by so much beauty. From flowers, to bark, to coloured glass or coral washed up on the shore.
When I see local businesses bustling with people, I'm grateful they're reaping the rewards of their investment.
I began to notice every compliment given to me. Instead of brushing compliments aside, no matter how small, I began to absorb it, allow it to sink into my heart and I was grateful that someone had noticed something about me. It's not about 'needing' others to make us feel special. It's about feeling worthy of receiving. I've a friend who is always saying she feels unappreciated by her family. But I've observed her closely on many occasions, and noticed that when her children give her compliments, or openly express love for her, she is uncomfortable and awkward, quickly brushing their endearments away. Some part of her actually doesn't feel worthy of the love and attention that she craves, and so she misses opportunities to feel all the love and appreciation coming her way. If she practices gratitude, consciously, perhaps she will become aware that love exists everywhere around her, and she will begin to open her heart to letting it in. That's the power of practicing conscious gratitude.
In 2017 I visited India