It’s just not very British is it? Gratitude, #blessed, giving thanks. A bit too upbeat. Us Brits prefer a good old grumble, a moan. Self deprecating, sarcastic, and often pessimistic. Prepare for the worst and anything else is a pleasant surprise.
Discussing actively practicing gratitude is something which may induce eye rolling amongst some, but it will most certainly change your life.
I’m sure if you quizzed us, we would all list things we are of course grateful for. Our families, our health, our homes. But we have also been raised in a culture which discourages sitting back and admiring what we have. And instead values identifying our weaknesses, challenging our flaws, and aiming for more. Bigger, better, faster. Nothing worth having comes easy-surely we’ve all heard (and possibly said) this? But what if there was a different way? What if the secret to changing your life for the better was as simple as taking a moment to acknowledge what you have right now, in this moment, and being grateful for it?
The first time actively practicing gratitude was suggested to me, I took it as a criticism. That I must appear spoilt and ungrateful. This was particularly relevant to me in relation to Motherhood. Of course I was grateful for my Daughter, that she survived her premature birth and initial health complications. But did this mean I wasn’t allowed to be traumatised by what had happened? To be chronically sleep deprived and exhausted? To long for a break? And of course I can, the two can coexists. But the reality is, the second type of thoughts took up a lot of my mind and time, whilst the gratitude, despite being the most important part, got lost in the melee.
This TED talk: ‘Want to be happy? Be grateful’ explains beautifully why Gratitude can be present in every moment, even the rubbish ones.
We are all grateful, but ‘feeling it’ isn’t enough, an active daily practice is what is needed to reap the benefits, so here are six ways you can actively practice Gratitude and change your life:
A journal, list the things you feel grateful for, the simpler the better.
Speaking it allowed in the mirror each morning.
Photographs of moments in your day which make you feel grateful, you can share these publicly on the likes of Instagram, or keep them for yourself.
A mindfulness mediation focusing on gratitude
A family discussion at a meal time, everyone listing what they are thankful for
A gratitude piece of jewellery that you mentally list things to be thankful for every time you touch it