The one thing we siblings heard way too often during our growing up years was – ‘Be Grateful’.
As teenagers particularly, we had (or so we thought) lots to complain about – material discontent, self-dissatisfaction; one or the other of us was always whining, “I wish I could change the direction of my life.” “I don’t like the way I look.” I remember one of my sisters once wished she had a shapelier nose and pat came our Mom’s reply –“Be grateful you have a nose. Think of the lepers who have only holes for noses!” When I griped about the size of my feet I was told to be happy and thankful that I had my own feet to stand and walk on. For every disgruntled comment of ours, it was, “Look at all that you have to be obliged for. Count your blessings.” At that time it was often annoying because as adolescents we thought Mom did not understand and did not empathise with us.
Not once in the entire span that he lived, I remember Dad cribbing about anything. He did not allow us to grumble about or criticise the food placed before us. He gently taught us to value the effort and love that went into the cooking, not to notice that there was less salt or too much chilly in a dish, whether at home or outside. No matter what life brought them he and Mom always found something to be grateful for. They led more by example than sermonising.
Over the years we are more than thankful for that magnificent mindset they bequeathed to us –the attitude of gratitude. They trained us to shift our focus from lack to abundance. They gifted us the sense of awareness that most of what we had were given, not earned by us; it was more a privilege than our right and so to accept it gracefully. They taught us to downsize our egos and keep them in the right place. We became more conscious of how blessed we were and how much we owed to life and society. They gave us the gift of self-reflection teaching us thereby to be constantly and sincerely grateful. We learned not to take anything for granted. Being content and staying centered on the positive aspects has brought more richness in our lives. It has made every day one of celebratory Thanksgiving.
Saying thank you is expressing gratitude in words. When we translate that thankfulness into action we are inwardly motivated to give back in some form or the other for all the gifts we enjoy every day. Yes, each day is a gift in itself which brings with it myriad little things that we can and should be appreciative of. Giving back does not have to be in kind. A smile of approval, an encouraging comment, a ray of hope, the act of listening attentively are small things that go a long way and help us build better relationships with our self and others. Modest acts which tell the other that, I appreciate you and this is my way of showing it.
In 22 Gratitude Exercises That Will Change Your Life, the writer Marelisa quotes the example of a man who once wrote 365 notes of gratitude. In her words: 365 Thank You Notes. In my post, How Gratitude can Change your Life – The Power of “Thank You”, I wrote about a man named John Kralik who felt that everything was going wrong in his life. That’s when he decided to set a New Year’s resolution of writing 365 thank you notes, one for each day of the year. He spent the entire year looking for people he could thank, including the barista at Starbucks, his daughter’s teacher, the people at his office, and so on. By the end of the year, he discovered that this gratitude exercise had transformed his life[i].
Marelisa also tells us what Robert Emmons, Ph. D. – one of the world’s foremost experts on gratitude reports in his book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude can make you Happier: that practicing gratitude can increase happiness by 25%. So imagine how much you can boost your happiness by cultivating the attitude of gratitude. Living in a heightened state of gratitude strengthens us spiritually as much as physically and emotionally. We put into effect the ancient law that the more grateful we are for the abundance in our life, the more we will attract of the same. The habitual exercise of being grateful attunes us to positivity which brings untold other benefits. There is so much to be grateful for – the new day we awaken to, the bright morning, air, (all for free), nature in all its glory and fury, people who rekindle the spark in us by just being themselves, the food, clothes, all things that bring comfort to our lives, our spouses, children, parents, friends, the good in each of us, the lessons we have been taught by misfortunes, life itself…the list is endless. We only need to open up our minds and hearts in recognition of the infinite bounty that flows through life.
“Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude.” ~ Nick Vujicic. So should all of us choose gratitude and its multiple paybacks?
As I write this I am reminded of a story that keeps doing the rounds of the internet. It is about a son who coveted a car and was hopeful his rich father would gift it to him on his graduation day. When the day arrived his father called him to his study and handed him a gift-wrapped, leather- bound journal. Disappointed and angry the son threw down the journal and left the study in a huff not returning ever again to see his father. When he finally decided to put the past behind him and reconcile, it was too late. His father had passed away. He was going through his father’s papers and came upon the journal he had thrown away. Filled with remorse, he opened it and found inside a car key with a dealer tag on which was written “Paid in full. Wherever this car takes you, write about it to remember forever. Love, Dad.” We can only imagine the son’s emotional state. That is why it is important to be grateful for what we get even if it isn’t what we want. And we must remember to express our gratitude while people are still alive. They won’t hear it once laid to rest in the grave.
As Fred De Witt Van Amburgh says, “Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.”
Photos from the internet.
#AttitudeOfGratitude #BeingThankful #LifeLessons #GoodLiving #EmotionalWellbeing #DifferentTruths
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