"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice." - Meister Eckhart.
How many of us stop to consciously give thanks and show our gratitude? Yes, in passing without much thought we often say 'thanks' -- to the person who held the door open for us, to the barista for our cappuccino, to the girl on the checkout in the supermarket, a wave of acknowledgment as someone let's us out into the traffic, to our partner for the cup of tea (often without even looking up from our laptop)...
There has been a whole ton of research done on happiness and what makes some people happier in life than others. One of the themes that comes up time and time again is that it is these people who make a point of expressing and acknowledging gratitude. For them it is a practice, like prayer and meditation.
I came to learn about and appreciate the importance of gratitude when I was in a very dark place in my life. There were days when life was so tough and such a struggle that I could barely find a single thing for which I was grateful. But, I tried. Every night as I collapsed into bed, I would search back through the day for one moment for which I was grateful. Some days it was simply the fact that I had a warm house or I'd had a hug from one of my children. Even when life is tough on any particular day there is ALWAYS something for which we can be grateful.
I believe the path to happiness is found in showing gratitude for the good things we already have in our lives. What are the benefits of expressing gratitude?
- We notice what's good in our life
- We stop to think about what's important to us
- We remember others in our life
- We feel blessed
- It impacts on others when we say 'thank you'
- It heals our emotional wounds
- We feel a sense of calm and peace
If we truly want a happier life it's not enough to simply say a quick 'thank you' to ourselves, we must commit to writing down those things for which we are grateful. It's in the action of writing that we stop to acknowledge the good things. And as we do so we open up to the possibility of more good things coming our way.
We begin to notice what's working well in our lives and what's great rather than only noticing all the rubbish that comes our way. We become more present in our lives if we've committed to spending five minutes at the end of the day writing in our notebook.
So, here's how I do it. I take a moment to bring myself into the present (i.e., not thinking about the laundry that needs taking out of the dryer or the email that needs a response) and I scan back over my day and see what comes up.
- A great cup of coffee
- A kiss from my boy
- A proper hug from a friend
- A sunny morning
- Those scrumped blackberries out on a walk
- The first sip of wine in the evening
- Text from my daughter from University letting me know all's good in her world
- A naughty joke from a cheeky friend
- Homemade lemon curd on really crunchy toast!
Over time, I've even learned to be grateful for the negative things that have happened in my life, without them I would not be the woman I am today. I have learned to take the positive from a negative situation.
So, what about you? Ask yourself What am I grateful for today? Will you commit to starting a Gratitude Journal? Leave a comment below or hop over to my Facebook page and start a conversation.
This first appeared on RebPerkins.com
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power," which took place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.