In the past 2 years, I have been discovering the amazing depth and power of gratitude.
I’ve discovered gratitude at levels far deeper than can be expressed by words alone. I am talking about the gratitude that we live, rather than say. We express it in our actions by doing and the choices we make on a day to day, moment to moment basis. We begin to see so vividly that the blessing we have received and recovery we have experienced are truly rare and amazing, that gratitude permeates our subconscious and becomes one of the foundational influences of our entire outlook on life. We don’t just think about it in our conscious mind, we move to feeling it in our emotions continuously.
The power is that we are far less fearful, far more hopeful, and we discover new energy and motivation in life because we feel grateful for everything, and anxious for little. We can do and achieve things that we used to fall short of. Why? Because the negative thoughts that always stopped us in our tracks are now nudged out by gratitude for each moment, each person, each event, and each physical item in our lives.
On a practical level, I have found gratitude helps me maintain a happy marriage, a fun and functioning relationship with my kids, physical fitness, success in my career, and better relationships with everyone in my life.
Again, why? Because I have let go of so much self-pity that kept me only seeing the negative in each circumstance. Filtered through fear and self-pity, I would virtually always see the half-empty glass. My mind would automatically nit-pick the imperfections in my job, my home, my wife, my family, and my health. Even if I didn’t say it, I would allow the thoughts in my mind that would then translate into behaviours that limited me. Or worse, led me to give up.
Gratitude on the other hand, especially when we live it rather than say it, keeps us focused on the half-full portion of the glass. Gratitude leads us to become excited and energized because of what we do have. So we make use of the blessing of the half-full part of the glass and build a better life for ourselves with what we do have, rather than remain immobilized looking at what we don’t.
An example on a practical level would be times when I decide to act in gratitude for my wife by doing something as an expression of this gratitude. This may be rubbing her neck while she works at her desk, or telling her I love her at a time when I don’t normally, or doing some of her share of the household responsibilities, or taking the kids out so she can have some peace for a while. When I determine to act in gratitude, I am careful not to speak it as well. I feel I don’t want to taint the purity of the expression. And by doing, it has such an impact on me and her, that the most amazing feelings in both of us begin to emerge. And our marriage functions better and better.
Another example is my fitness routine which includes cycling for about 10 kms a few times a week. Self-pity would have me complain in my head about the cold, the rain, dogs, traffic, sweating, and how hard it was. Gratitude on the other hand focuses on the opportunity to be in shape, the beauty of the area I cycle in, the fresh morning air, the compliments from others, and the feeling of accomplishment that only comes from knowing I completed a task fully.
When I let gratitude guide my thoughts and express itself in my actions like riding longer or pushing harder, I have better workouts and cycling than ever and get better results, which then fuels more gratitude and more action.
Gratitude expressed only verbally will do some good. But gratitude internalized so deeply we constantly feel it to the point that it becomes one of our defaults of perspective, then expressed in actions, can take us to new heights in every part of our lives. It has freed me from so many of the shackles of negativity that limited me.
I encourage everyone to seek gratitude beyond words then act on it.