By Mario De Negri, Fitness Coordinator for Athletics and Recreation Services
I’d like to take a few blogs and talk about ways to achieve gratitude. If you were at the “Say YES to Everything” talk we spoke briefly about how this applies to the work of acceptance. Gratitude is a very selfless state. Different actions can be ways to gratitude but we are ultimately looking to be living the state. When we exercise these actions they strengthen us to see things that we might not be seeing given we’ve choose to block them or not be aware of them. These actions when practiced on a regular basis start to become the new “normal” and within this state we see things the way they are and that becomes more frequent.
Seeing things for the way they are makes it feel difficult to be grateful. How can I be grateful when my girlfriend dumps me, or when my friend doesn’t seem to have to work as hard as me to make more money? All of this can be true only if we resist seeing the real picture. I’m not saying these things don’t make happy feelings but what I’m saying is that with practice of gratitude when these things happen we are better equipped to manage these feelings.
Avoiding comparison is a tough one because we are programmed to want to keep up with the Jones’s. That if we don’t happen to have what others have then we are somehow less worthy of receiving. This is very dangerous as this thought process is the very reason we are not receiving abundance. Being able to not compare ourselves leaves us open to focus on the things we do have. This will lead us to more gratitude. I know I want the car with heated seats but if my suffering is coming from a place because someone else has what I want then I am the one who suffers not them. Instead being grateful I own a car at all, or even that I am lucky to know someone who can have a car with heated seats invites more happiness and lets the world unfold for me without my resisting or trying. So by comparing ourselves to others only limits us from our true greatness. When we can accept ourselves for who and where we are then the gates of gratitude will open.
Appreciation is also another action to achieve gratitude. When we appreciate the space we are in presently then we invite more joy into our lives. If we harbour resentment to our situation it will continue us on a path of suffering. It is easy to reject the cold winter, to spend a whole season living for the spring to come without any appreciation for the now. It takes discipline to find appreciation for where we are at. I appreciate the winter as it gives me more cuddle time with my friends and loved ones. I appreciate that the trees can be at such ease, almost unaffected by the cold. I appreciate I can walk freely in the sun without fear of my personal safety or how quiet and calm the winter can be. There are many opportunities to feel appreciation but we must discipline ourselves to the reality of life.
Another thing we can do for gratitude is care for my body. This again is an easy one to neglect as we take it for granted. We expect it to walk and move and breath and heal for us but we so seldom give anything back. We must look at our body as a relationship much like another person and treat it with the same love we want to receive from others. We cannot be in happy relationships if we never do our part to create a feeling of being grateful. We tend to be the worse towards ourselves over everything else. So taking some time to care for my body, with some gentle loving, stretching, and moving, feeding it well will lead to gratitude. When we care for our bodies it will care for us. This is the universal principal to happiness when it becomes a cycle state of constant giving and receiving. We must first be willing to give and be willing to receive.
Try out some of these and just keep them in mind, or write them down on post notes to leave on a mirror or stove. Do not judge yourself if you forget or move into a state of ungrateful. Just watch it and when you see it gently make the change. Play with it and leave it everywhere so you are consistently reminded of why you can be grateful.