Every morning before I start my day, I write down a few things that I feel grateful for.
It only takes me about two minutes.
And it opens my mind every time I do it.
My heart feels a little more gentle, and the world seems a bit more kind.
It’s so simple that I could easily overlook this practice. Because something so simple can’t be that powerful, right?
The art of counting your blessings
Sometimes when I wake up, I don’t feel so wonderful. Maybe it’s a cloudy day, maybe I feel some anxiety, or I haven’t slept well.
I have also had times when I was going through intense emotional processes, like a break-up for instance, and I felt overwhelmed by painful emotions.
In those moments, it really felt like training a muscle.
It’s not so easy to find something right away, it might even hurt a bit.
These are the transformative moments.
I sit with it anyway. I ask myself:”What do I feel grateful for?”
Perhaps even:”What about this situation do I feel grateful for?”
Finding the blessings in a painful and difficult situation can feel daunting, maybe even impossible at first.
But my experience is that when we ask ourselves a question, an answer always follows.
So whatever you feel like, ask yourself:”What do I feel grateful for today?”
Give yourself permission to let it be something small and ‘insignificant’.
And see what happens next.
Our negativity bias
We all have a so-called negativity bias: part of us is always looking out for danger, and seeking to find what is wrong in a certain situation.
This is a primordial instinct that used to keep us humans alive in times when danger could be around every corner.
If you would go walking around super relaxed and unworried in a time and place where wild animals were lurking all around you, you wouldn’t have survived for long.
For that reason, some people have called this instinct:”survival of the scaredest”.
But the world we live in nowadays is not so dangerous anymore.
It’s very rare that there’s a direct physical threat to our lives.
Most of the danger that we perceive is about an imaginary future: it’s all in our heads.
And it stresses us out.
Putting on a new set of glasses
When we practice gratitude, we consciously choose to see the world through a different lens.
For a moment, we let go of the tendency to see what’s wrong and scary, and we focus on the things that make us feel grateful, happy, blessed. We focus on what opens our hearts.
And when we do, the whole world shifts before our eyes.
We can see that actually it’s not so scary at this moment right now: it’s a beautiful place, filled with love and kindness and beauty.
And don’t worry: you can always go back to feeling scared and worried afterwards, but just for this moment, all is well.
Gratitude or appreciation?
Gratitude is a topic that’s mentioned quite often in the world of personal development. A slightly different way of looking at things, but a very valuable one, is that of appreciation.
The reason I want to focus on this difference is because here’s another shift in perspective we can make.
If you think about it, gratitude is always connected to a past in which this thing or situation wasn’t there.
For instance:”I’m grateful for this beautiful weather”, implies a time when the weather was not beautiful. “I’m grateful that I feel confident”, implies a time when I was insecure and afraid.
Appreciation is always about the thing in itself: “I appreciate your kindness”, “I appreciate the sunshine”, focuses just on this moment, and doesn’t imply any past when this wasn’t the case.
So when we practice appreciation, it’s like we put on even more brightly colored glasses, and we land even more firmly in the NOW.
’Being’ grateful or ‘feeling’ grateful?
When I do my morning gratitude practice, I always choose to write:”I feel grateful”, instead of “I am grateful”.
Again, this is a subtle but distinct difference: When writing “I feel”, I’m really taking a moment to actually feel that emotion of gratitude for this particular thing.
I could choose to write:”I am grateful for …”, without even feeling the truth of it.
And since we are feeling beings, and the way we feel is coloring the way we perceive the world around us, it’s so valuable to start the day actually feeling grateful.
If you’re a bit like me, you’ve practiced gratitude before.
And you’ve experienced its benefits.
And then you forgot about it, it got lost in the mix.
Sometimes all you need is a reminder.
If so, I hope my words can serve as your reminder that gratitude and appreciation are real superpowers, and they’re available for you right now, and always.
Over to you: What do you feel grateful for?
Why not put it into practice right away?
You can share in the comments below what you feel grateful for, or appreciative of.
Also, it’s very stimulating to read other people’s ‘gratitudes’, because it will inspire you again.
So let’s share!
Thank you :)
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