When we express gratitude for things in our life, something really special happens. In that moment, as brief as it may be, we step back and see our life experience for the beautiful mosaic it is. This simple act of saying "thank you" allows us to step outside the normal hum-drum of our lives, sort of like the way meditation creates space for a single moment. It also helps us to take stock of what's working in our lives instead of what's not working - don't worry, we have our entire lives to complain about that!! Seriously, though, this does help us to move away from what we want to what we have, creating a sense of contentment and maybe even a rare moment of peace. Ahhhh.
You can even feel the effects of gratitude on our physical bodies! For instance, pay close attention to your heart when you express thanks for something. Feel how the energy around your heart becomes lighter and bubbling, like you shook a bottle of soda. Now notice what happens if you sustain this feeling for an hour or maybe a few hours. Pretty great, isn't it?
I liken this effect to a bulldozer, clearing your path of any negativity. Nasty people are replaced by kind people, obstacles suddenly become smaller, your physical ailments start to feel a bit healthier. All around you, things just start to feel rather ok, maybe even good!
Imagine then what our lives could be like if we could cultivate this feeling for prolonged periods of time...WOW, right?
Building Your Gratitude Bulldozer
So, how do you do this? Obviously, expressing thanks for something is easy. You need only say it out loud or quietly to ourselves. Yet if our goal is to prolong this energy, we need to go one step further. Here are a few ideas for getting your bulldozer humming:
1) Gratitude Day: If simple is your modus vivendi, then you may like this option. Set aside one entire day for saying what you are grateful for. It would start right when you open your eyes in the morning with something like "I am grateful for feeling rested!" Then as you move through your day, you will add other observations. It could perhaps be, "I am thankful for my morning cup of coffee because it gives me a boost" or "I am thankful for this radio station that makes me laugh as I drive to work." Keep this up your entire day and notice how you feel. If you find it's easy and helpful, perhaps do it again for another day...or a week!
2) 10 in the Morning, 10 at Night: If you are someone who likes to make lists, then this tactic may be better for you. Draft a list of, say, ten things that make you feel grateful. (You can do more or less, depending on what works for you.) Keep this list next to your bed and just before you go to sleep, read the list. Maybe even say it out loud. Then when you wake up in the morning, read the list again. Do this for at least a week. By starting and ending your day with this good energy, you are allowing it to expand into other parts of your day. Just like any of these exercises, this effect is likely to grow stronger the more you do it.
3) Gratitude Artwork: If you have an artistic bent, then this strategy is for you. Create a piece of artwork that speaks to what you are grateful for. This could be a collage of pictures that make you happy, be it a frame of photos or a poster-board of magazine cutouts. Perhaps you would rather paint or draw what makes your grateful, or if you are musically gifted, write a song! Any creative outlet would work here. The only important thing is to feature this piece of artwork prominently in your home so that you see it everyday. Better yet, pause and meditate on it for a few minutes each day, allowing this sense of happiness to grow within you.
It's A Bulldozer's Life For Me
If sustained, cultivating a sense of gratitude will relax us better than any alcoholic beverage and energize us better than any coffee (yes, really!). It has knock-on effects too. For instance, by helping to raise our energy, we allow the voice of our intuition to grow stronger, guiding us more forcefully. Now, who doesn't want that? Try it out, and let us know how it works for you!
Happy New Year!