July 28, 2022
Today I will appreciate the many gifts I have been given. –Courage to Change
So why exactly is gratitude important? Gratitude is the feeling of thankfulness that arises when you take time to notice the many gifts you have in your life. There is a lot of psychology to back up incorporating gratitude into your daily life. Google it, go to the public library or find a book on mindfulness and gratitude will surely be mentioned. Gratitude can help you to focus on the positive. It can help you to be aware of resources, people and activities that make you feel good. It can help you to be more mindful of the many things you do have instead of focusing on your wants and desires. Like most mindful activities, just pausing to reflect on your abundance can shift your central nervous system into a rest and digest mode.
Once as a teenager, a strong message arose out of a meditation I did about gratitude. As I sat in silence the thought “the more you appreciate the things you have, the more God gives you to appreciate” kept running through my head. Like most people, I could then and still can get caught up in thinking about things I wish I owned or feeling jealous of peers who seem to have more than I do. When my mind starts to go down this negative path, I have learned that gratitude it the best tool to get my head straight. When I acknowledge my many blessings and gifts, a sense of contentment wells up inside me.
An attitude of gratitude makes a world of difference in how I perceive my life and it is a mindfulness technique I teach my students every year. We have made gratitude trees in the library where students anonymously write something they are thankful for on a construction paper leaf and add it to a “tree” on a bulletin board, window or rolling display easel. Some years I have had the kids create gratitude journals using stickers, colorful duct tape and other art supplies to decorate blank books donated by my husband’s company. Sometimes we write thank you notes to teachers and staff for small and large things we appreciate about their efforts. Always we have a discussion of things we are grateful for and the value to getting into the habit of reflecting daily on gratitude.
In my personal practice, I begin each day by writing a three-item gratitude list in my journal. It can be as simple as food, clothing, and shelter, or it may be very specific, naming a friend or colleague who helped me in the past 24 hours, a particularly lovely sunrise, or an inspiring novel. A good friend suggested I try this practice daily when my life was extremely challenging: a close friend struggled with cancer and my first marriage was disintegrating before my eyes. I literally have written a gratitude list every day since February of 2006 and it has transformed my life. But don’t just trust me on this. Why not try writing a gratitude list for yourself today?
2 thoughts on “Gratitude”
I am grateful for you! I am grateful for my students. I am grateful for my great momma.
Thank you Claire! So grateful to have met you and for the important work you are doing.