Gratitude is a way of living. It is the state of mind and experience way deeper than simple count of blessings. Do not get me wrong, counting blessings is important and grounding, however simply listing what you are grateful for without really being able to experience gratitude with it will not necessarily lead you to living the inspired life. And to say, counting blessings should never feel like mindless act of moving beads on abacus. Living with gratitude mandates awareness.
Historically, many religious leaders, scientists and scholars have written about the transformative power of gratitude, however it is not until recently ~ last two to three decades that research into positive emotions and its benefits has evolved.
Many people are not aware of what gratitude really is. For many it is one of the soft, perhaps pink and fluffy, subjects no one is really buying into.
Gratitude has been linked to increased happiness, cognitive improvement, ability to handle life challenges, improved sleep, bolster good health and strengthen your relationships. It has healing powers and for people undergoing transformative experiences ~ it is the starting point, where their life begins to shift.
However, what does it really mean to experience gratitude?
Recently I came across this article Gratitude Comes from Noticing Your Life, Not Thinking About IT ( http://www.raptitude.com/2018/02/gratitude-noticing/) It once again reaffirmed the importance of mindfulness being foundation to living with gratitude.
Why is it important? Not only are there health and social benefits... living with gratitude is essential to finding clarity and focus. I believe gratitude practice should be part of everyone's mental daily hygiene. Metaphorically living with gratitude is similar to teeth brushing or washing your face.... see when you brush your teeth you clean up the "film deposit"; embracing gratitude simply clears up the "fogginess" in your brain and leads you to clarity and focus to be able to witness and appreciate your life.
As mentioned earlier, in order to bring gratitude to your life, one of the fundamental blocks necessary is the "art of noticing" or MINDFULNESS to the present moment. The importance of now can not be overemphasized. Living the busy lives as we do, NOW is often overlooked as we are miles ahead in the future, and hence gratitude opportunities around us are missed ~ GONE.
It was in the conversation with my friend Jackie (who is in her 60ies...) where she shared that each day as she is getting older... simply living and experiencing life has a different meaning. In particular she shared the power of her morning routine and prayer, as well as noticing the "life around her" and having the appreciation for it. She specifically made a note of watching the flowers bloom and how grateful she felt for being able to witness these gifts of nature.
It was that conversation which spiraled thoughts .. of why is it we become more mindful as we age? Why is it that we learn to appreciate people once no longer with us? What does it take to bring awareness into our lives to be "woke" and notice...
As the author of the cited article states "simply making the case to ourselves that we have reasons to feel grateful doesn’t necessarily make us feel grateful. Gratitude, when we do genuinely feel it, arises from experiences we are currently having, not from evaluating our lives in our heads. " My message ... Be present... Notice.. Hear ... Feel...