Gratitude deserves our attention. Without gratitude for what we have, it is virtually impossible to truly cultivate peace of mind, contentment and happiness. The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways, gratitude encompasses all of these meanings when we apply them to how we choose to live our lives. I often think of a ballerina as the most beautiful example of grace. His or her movement is definite and there is a beauty to the self-assuredness of their poise and flexibility, they are concise and yet adaptable to the movements of their partners.
So who do so many of us forget to be grateful and exhibit grace?
The mammalian (earliest and at the top of our spine) part of our brains is not designed to sit on our laurels and count our blessings; it is designed to be on the hunt for the next reward and to avoid all threats. This is where we need to employ the more modern part of our brain(the pre-frontal cortex) to come to the rescue and save the day. A powerful way we can train our modern brain to do this is to express gratitude for all that we do have in our lives.
Operating from a place of gratitude opens the door for always seeing the positive in every situation, person and place. Perspective is a wonderful thing and many of my clients who experience moving from anxiety to love will say that nothing outside of them has changed but how they look at their lives is completely different. This is true power.
The reason I chose the word attitude (apart from the fact that it rhymes nicely with gratitude) for the title of this blog is that being grateful is an attitude. It is a way we chose to think and behave and it is also a habit that needs to be carved into the neural structures of your brain.
When someone is truly grateful for something we have done for them we are more likely to help that individual again as we feel acknowledged and appreciated. According to a 2014 study published in ‘Emotion’ thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship so not only will your existing relationships thrive but you open the door to new friendships and acquaintances.
Take a moment to think of all the people in your life and what they do for you? You will be amazed to see how much it is when you give it your attention. Often we are too quick to think of what people don’t do rather than what they do.
Start today to show gratitude to the people in your life. From your close family to your friends, your colleagues to the people you see at the bus stop or who serve you a coffee, make a conscious choice to show them genuine gratitude for all that they do for you and notice the positive impact this will have on all of your relationships.
Gratitude combats anxiety
It is impossible to feel grateful and afraid at the same time. So for those of us who can feel anxious and/or stressed than practising gratitude is the perfect antidote to help you to remain positive, calm and of course grateful. Gratitude softens fear because it provides us with this wonderful thing called perspective. If you are struggling with some area of your life and you feel overwhelmed by it think of the incredible power it can bring to take a step back and look at everything that the problem is NOT. Often when we fixate on one thing that is challenging in either our personal or professional loves we lose the capacity to be grateful. For example, you have a tricky boss who seems to always be in a bad mood and at the same time, you have a bunch of amazing colleagues. If you focus only on the boss and his/her moods you miss the opportunity to connect with the positive people in your life.
Gratitude Keeps us Present
Most fear and anxiety lives in the future and what if situations? If the mind is permitted it will get swept away to all sorts of potential future disasters and we can fall into the catastrophising habit. Most unhelpful.
Bringing the mind back to gratitude for what you have now will immediately allay these imagined fears and keep your grounded and very content with what you do have in your life. The next time you feel any anxiety creeping in or stress building try it in the moment by looking around you and observing the abundance you do have. However, the habit of gratitude needs to be practised all the time and not just in the moments when you feel stress.
Follow these 3 top tips to implement a gratitude attitude:
This blog post was written by Fiona Brennan, a Clinical Hypnotherapist, mindfulness and certified NLP practitioner with a busy clinic in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. Visit Fiona’s website thepositivehabit.com for more.