Cultivating a gratitude practice is said, among other benefits, to greatly increase one’s happiness. In an article published by Harvard Health researchers say, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
I do my best each day to practice gratitude but it hasn’t always been easy. When I first began my gratitude practice, I started by focusing on the simpler things in my life that were rather easy to be grateful for. I would begin my mornings by either saying or writing down how grateful I was for my warm bed, my family, my home, my safety and security. This practice helped me to start my day on a lighter more hopeful note and it stopped any anxious or negative thoughts I may have had from taking up space in my mind. It offered me a sense of relief and comfort to start my days this way, but it wasn’t until I moved into a deeper gratitude practice, focusing on the more challenging experiences in my life, that I was able to truly understand the profound impact that a gratitude practice can have on your life.
It’s easy to focus on the simple things in our lives and have good feelings towards them. And it is natural to see the experiences in our lives such as loss, failure or disappointment as simply being negative and thus lacking any sort of worth to be grateful for. However, if we can dig a little further and look for the value in these seemingly negative experiences, we can begin to unearth the deeply valuable lessons and opportunities for growth that go hand in hand with some of life’s most challenging experiences.
For me, as I began to feel lighter each morning with a focus on those simple things, I then decided to experiment with how it might feel if I chose to add in some gratitude for the more negative and trying aspects of my life. And what happened as a result was truly incredible to me. As I began to either speak gratitude out loud for the challenges in my life, or as I would write them as part of a gratitude list, something began to shift in me. With each time that I offered gratitude for the negatives it was as though I was becoming more neutral towards those experiences. I began to feel less anxiety or frustration around the negatives, and by choosing to look for the lessons they had to offer me, even if I had not yet been able to fully grasp the lesson, I was able to release the negative power it was holding on my mind.
It was through this shift in my perspective that I was then able to access and appreciate the concept of an abundant perspective. An abundant perspective is when we are able to take every single experience or aspect of our lives, both positive and negative, and see the abundance that is available to us in all of it. An abundance of opportunity for growth, an abundance of opportunity for love and connection, an abundance of opportunity to let go of the powerful hold that negative emotions can have on our minds and instead practice deep gratitude for being humanly capable of experiencing it all. It is truly a gift to live your life fully. Living fully means to live as a whole person, one who experiences triumphs and failures, one who has doubts and faith, one who knows their greatness but still feels insecure at times. Living with an abundant perspective means to see it all as worthy and powerfully beneficial for you along your personal growth journey. Abundance is a mindset and you simply have to choose it.