It’s legal, low calorie and laudable. It costs nothing. It remains quiet when ignored but blossoms when revealed. It can be your most powerful weapon and your best friend. Plain and simple, it’s gratitude, the state of being grateful or thankful.
Millions of words are written daily about the practice of incorporating gratitude into your life. The sheer nature of its accessibility and ease of use makes it, to some, not as worthy as a gadget that costs a lot to obtain and maintain. Sometimes, because it’s not tangible, it’s easy to forget.
I could tell you about the found money, services provided suddenly for free, a windfall trip to Paris, unexpected gifts and other `stuff I’ve received from practicing gratitude (all of which I have indeed received recently), but that’s not it’s true value.
Gratitude is my most valuable ally because it provides the greatest amount of joy and peace. I’ve found nothing I can buy or whip up in the kitchen that brings me the solitude, clarity and overall well being of being grateful. I can always count on gratitude to bring me joy and a sense of well-being. It is always available for my use. Like meditation, the more I use it the more I get out of it.
Practicing gratitude is easy, and my usage has increased over the years. There are several methods that enhance the results of incorporating gratitude into your daily life.
My first and foremost method to tapping into gratitude is to be open. A few years ago I broke my wrist while training dogs for the Humane Society. It was a bad break and I was in the hospital for three days. I was volunteering for the Society because I’d recently retired from a rewarding and high-powered job. In addition, my sister, who was only three years older than me, had died just weeks before I fell.
Obviously, I was miserable. I wondered `Why me?’ When I got home from the hospital I was virtually helpless. I couldn’t drive or cook with one hand or do much work on the computer. I even needed help showering and getting ready for the day. It was to remain that way for seven weeks. At the end of my first week home, in the morning after my spouse went to work, it finally dawned on me. There was not a thing I could do but be open to this whole experience. I closed my eyes, opened my arms and standing in a brilliant ray of streaming sunshine in my living room I spoke, “Okay, God, I’m open and receptive to whatever I’m supposed to get out of this experience.” I became instantly grateful at having this event occur so I could quiet things down and take time to reevaluate my next steps in life. Things in my life definitely shifted to the better from that point forward.
From that traumatic experience I learned the value of starting and ending each day with an homage to gratitude. Some people have a gratitude journal. That works best for them to reinforce the routine, and they like looking back from year to year to see how their gratefulness may have changed. My daily routine around gratitude is somewhat less formal, but it works for me. When I wake in the morning, I swing my feet over the edge of the bed but, before they touch the floor, I raise my arms overhead and say a simple `Thank you.” This is all my cat Kali will allow as she nervously jumps up and down on the bed encouraging me to head to her empty food bowl.
My evening acknowledgement signals my body and mind to the end of the day. I give thanks for the richness of my life and specific praise for any standouts I experienced. Many times I only have the energy to groan a delicious “I love my bed” as I slide between the sheets. There are no rules; whatever works for you is just the perfect way.
With more breadth of life experience, seniors such as me have the best vantage point to use and benefit from gratitude. My perspective on life is broader and less hectic. I have more time to reflect on what works and what doesn’t to make my life more satisfying. Been there, done that on acquiring things; now it’s about acknowledging those practices that have consistently brightened my life, lightened my load, and made me more at one with the universe.
I feel the weight of a powerful tool in gratitude, and I’m so appreciative that I am able to share it with you. Give it a try, and let me know how you make it work.
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