Yes, gratitude is a powerful way to change your life.
In fact, gratitude is good for you…& it’s backed by science. Studies have proven gratitude lowers our blood pressure, improves our immune system, facilitates productive sleep, reduces depression, anxiety, as well as substance abuse. It’s even a key factor in suicide prevention. So, let’s look at what gratitude is and how we can apply it to our lives.
Gratitude is our expression of appreciation for what we have now, without measuring or qualifying it with what we had in the past or what we may desire in the future. It brings us closer to a place of inner peace, deep inside. This expression of gratitude helps us overcome the pain or suffering we experience from our troubling thoughts.
Gratitude is also strongly associated with greater happiness and stronger relationships. True gratitude towards the people in our lives, workplace, and even strangers can transform our lives, both in spreading happiness as it boosts our health and well-being. Research studies show that when we practice gratitude, it can reduce our risk of depression significantly in just 6 months.
Did you know approximately 25% of Americans report experiencing stress during the holidays? This confirms what we already know. We live our lives in a place where we’re always in search of something other than what we have right now. What if…instead, we redirected our attention to being here now rather than being in our mind planning a future time or revisiting what has already been? Notice, living our lives in search of something else is a trap.
Most of us love the holidays, but have you ever noticed that they seem to go by in a total blur? As the years quickly pass, too often we find ourselves counting down the number of days until the next holiday or event…in either excitement or dread, right?
Isn’t this the way our lives often go? We spend our lives thinking about the next best plan or event coming up and waiting or counting down the days, rather than experiencing where we find ourselves right now. This is how we miss the best part. It’s as if, the present moment is getting in the way of what we want next. We’re living in thoughts about the future or the past, thus we’re not being here in the now, to experience what we already have. Why are we spending our lives waiting?
Waiting is a habit that traps us in limbo. We’re waiting for something better than what we have here now…and all the while we lose what’s most precious that’s already here.
Have you also noticed that…even when we get what we “think” is the next best thing we’ve been waiting for, the novelty wears off, and we’re on to seeking or chasing something else we think will make us happier? And for however long or short, it’s fleeting.
However, when we’re grateful for what’s already present, we’re not waiting anymore. Instead, we’re dwelling in abundance now. It’s already here. So, instead, have you ever stopped to experience “right now”? It’s amazing…really.
Let’s be clear…right now is the gap most of us are missing. This is where we can live all the time, in inner peace, and it doesn’t go away. This is where we find paradise.
If you listen to the silence, in the gap between thoughts long enough, you will find it. It’s always and already here waiting for your return. It’s found in the experience of your attention now…not in the mind.
So, try it. Let’s all stop and take a deep breath right now—and freeze time for just 3 minutes.
Turn off your mind like you’d turn off your phone by redirecting your attention to your breath, thus, paying attention to what’s left when you’re not thinking thoughts.
Use your breath to anchor yourself in this moment, here now. Be aware of your body and the air that’s moving in and out. Feel the inner aliveness. We can learn to be here all the time by making it a habit to return to awareness when we notice we’re in thought. This is what mindfulness is.
Mindfulness is our ability to quiet our mind enough to enjoy life the way it is, right this minute. When was the last time you spent a quiet moment really enjoying or being grateful for a cup of coffee or your favorite drink…one sip or aroma scent at a time? Yes, when was the last time you took the time to read a few pages of your favorite book before you left the house…for your daily routine? Isn’t it time to do something different?
What gifts in your life are you grateful for? What comes to mind right now? What’s important enough to pause and give it attention? Maybe it’s a precious pet, a sweet child, or a call from a friend?
Notice…right now is the present we’ve all been waiting for & there’s no wait. It’s already here. Yes, it’s the gift we were given long ago, but too often haven’t taken the time or attention to receive it.
So, take the time, right now…one moment at a time and give yourself space to experience what you’re feeling. Close your eyes, tune everything out, and just listen to your breath. With a bit of mindfulness like this, you’ll likely find that your anxieties will soon melt away.
Consider the following practices below to help you get in the habit of quieting your mind and return to awareness & gratitude in the present moment now.
Take Time for Gratitude…Mindful Practices that will change your life:
- Take some quiet time for yourself.
- Find a way to help others.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Write thank you notes or send a greeting card with a kind word of encouragement.
- Make a gratitude jar where you write down a daily blessing & drop it in so you can read it at a time when you need encouragement yourself.
- At dinner…share what you’re most grateful for that day.
- During errands, take the time & attention to notice someone with a smile or a kind word.
- Notice someone’s nametag and acknowledge them. Have you ever noticed how many businesses are open to serve us every day? That’s something we can all be grateful for.
- When stopped at a red light…redirect your attention to your surroundings & how fortunate we are to have transportation and the nature that surrounds us every day.
- When cooking meals…notice the simple things like washing vegetables or stirring a pot.
- Eat mindfully by noticing the colors of the food on your plate & savor each bite by putting your utensils down in-between bites.
- Notice the gorgeous evening sunsets or fluffy white clouds in the beautiful blue sky.
- Finally…Allow or accept life to be what it is…with no complaints.
- Remember…When you feel stressed or anxious &…you will, notice it’s happening to you. It’s in you; it’s not you. It’s a thing…yes, it’s a field of energy that is stuck and will pass if you let it. So, again, accept all situations as they come and only do what’s needed, if anything. Be grateful for what is. Now. This is how we accept reality without suffering painful resistance to what is.
- Be patient with yourself as you grow and grateful for where you are already. For more insight, consider reading Chapter 9 (The Busy Mind) in my book: “Breaking Free from the Ego: A Course in Finding and Freeing Yourself”. https://amzn.to/3mC7vO9
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog. Please share it with someone else. It may be exactly what they need to hear to be free too. Come back for next month’s blog and…
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About the Author – Trina Carroll-Houk is a spiritual teacher, counselor, and founder of Breaking Free Boundaries, LLC who specializes in self-awareness, mindfulness, and the spiritual dimension of being. Her goal is to help people improve their quality of life so they can experience inner peace, meaningful purpose, and greater fulfillment. Trina represents a movement focused on helping people release what limits them from transforming into awakened beings with a higher sense of spiritual consciousness.
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