“If the only prayer you ever say is; ‘Thank you’, it will be enough.” Meister Eckhart
Gratitude is the quickest and easiest way to increase wellbeing. Not only do people who see themselves as grateful feel more energetic, healthier, more optimistic and more empathic. They are also less vulnerable to clinical depression, able to deal better with adversity and to build strong relationships. (Stephen Post PHd – ‘Why Good things happen to Good People’)
Don’t worry if you don’t experience much gratitude right now, it is simply a question of shifting your focus. The more you pay attention to what you are grateful for, the more it will naturally come to the forefront of your experience. By paying attention we train the brain in a certain direction, so when paying attention to gratitude we are training neurons linked with gratitude. Those neurons that are trained fire clearer and stronger signals, and so they will naturally be what appear most clearly in our awareness.
This story shows us that it is never too late to start…
The son of an 89 year old Jewish mother described his mother as a traditional, complaining and worrying Jewish mother. During a visit he was writing about gratitude. He shared the benefits of gratitude with her. She was impressed but commented: ‘Shame that is too late for me’. He asked: ‘What if it wasn’t too late, would you give it a go?’ She agreed and so after each worrying or complaining sentence he would add: ‘and…..’ She then had to continue the sentence with: ‘and I have a blessed life.’ The following week was full of laughter as he was adding ‘and’ to most of her sentences. The neighbor was also engaged to support and the son continued to ring her every day upon his return back home. After 5 weeks his sister rang, asking: ‘What have you done to mum?’
Three years later the son is visiting again. As he approaches his mother’s room, he sees her relaxing with a beautiful and peaceful expression on her face. He watches her, and when she awakes, he asks: ‘you looked so peaceful and contented, what were you thinking?’ Her reply: ‘No thoughts other than the occasional: Blessed, blessed, blessed…..’ She died one month later.
We can choose our focus; abundance or scarcity, beauty or ugliness, kindness or cruelty, they all exist to some extent in our lives. When we pay careful attention, we notice that there is much more of the good, it is just that our attention tends to be hijacked by the negative.
Here is your three-part Adult Gratitude practice that leads to experiencing more gratitude. All you need to do is answer these three questions:
1. What I have received….
2. What I have given…….
3. What difficulties and problems I have caused…….
Answer these questions every morning or evening for six weeks. You can focus on a particular relationship for some time, or your life in general. The last question brings us into humility, which is the tail part of Gratitude – so for the Grace of God go I…..
Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.
A Nigerian proverb
We have a Christmas gift for you – Meditation on Gratitude – Gratitude focus is the most powerful way to enhance all that is good over the festive season! Enjoy!
Take time out in the midst of it all to reset your mind to what it is all about and to ensure that you enjoy this time to the fullest.Click here for your free meditation on Gratitude
Article by Charlotte Thaarup-Owen. B. Teach, DipFDR (Vic), DipMeditation, DipEd (London University) MBSR, MBEAT, CBMT.
Charlotte is an internationally experienced clinical mindfulness consultant and transformative educator.
Charlotte has designed and facilitated mindfulness workshops (APS (Australian Psychological Society) endorsed) locally and abroad. Charlotte has over 20 years experience in facilitating change and personal and interpersonal development as well as leadership training, retreats and 360 feedback.
She is a registered and accredited mediator and has worked at executive level in both the public and not for profit sectors as well as running her own company for over 12 years. She has facilitated Mindfulness for the past 8 years as retreats, workshops and coaching.