Discover Gratitude Through Mindfulness

Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have. – Buddha

I know that when I am in a funk, the simple practice of appreciation can bring a huge difference into my day. When I get down, it’s because I have forgotten to do so. A little bit of gratefulness goes a long way. Be it in meditation, writing in a journal or taking a walk.

When I return to gratitude in that moment or during a walk, I remember the gifts that have been given me spiritual, emotional, mental, and even material. I ask myself how I can be of service to others in return for the gifts that I have received myself. I believe in sharing those gifts with others.

I know when I give, I receive a full heart, satisfaction, and contentment. I know that when I give out of a space of abundance, love and compassion that is then returned to me a thousand-fold. To be able to give, I must have that sense of being blessed deep within. That is knitted into my being because I give gratitude for everything that I have and everything I am.

There were days in my life where I was a low-income single parent and I was surrounded by loving persons who assisted and uplifted me when I needed it. For this I am grateful. When coming from that heart of gratitude, I can do the same.

Buddhist monks start off their morning with chants of gratitude, as do many other spiritualities. I learned to do the same, for I know what Light it brings to me. Buddha believed that every human birth is worthy of gratitude. By merely thanking our existence, we can feel a lot more empowered and connected to ourselves. Gratitude meditation is the simplest way that we can choose to follow the ‘Dharma’, (the ‘truth’ or the ‘way things are’) in our everyday lives.

The truth about gratitude

Gratitude opens up your way of thinking and can elevate your mood.

Well, we do say “thanks” many times throughout our day, right? You may say it automatically when a cashier hands you your change or when someone holds the door for you. But how often do you really allow yourself to truly experience that gratitude? Gratitude goes far beyond common courtesy — it’s not just something you offer for the other person’s sake. In fact, this rich, shimmering quality has the power to affect your emotions and change the way you feel.

Gratitude uplifts and opens up your way of thinking. It can restore a sense of appreciation and optimism, energize your spirit, and renew your perspective. When you take the time to really feel gratitude, even for the challenges you face in life, your outlook can shift, and even help you find solutions.

In many religious traditions, gratitude is expressed through a blessing–of a person, an event, a marriage, an object. But you don’t need to subscribe to any particular belief system to experience or to offer one. In the act of “blessing,” you simply become aware of the gift before you, whatever it is, and appreciate its presence and value, wishing that the best comes of it. That’s it. You acknowledged the good stuff, rather than focus on the bad stuff–something we could all do more of.

What you can learn from gratitude and gratefulness

As Kristi Nelson says in her book, Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted

To speak about the differences between gratitude and gratefulness might seem like quibbling over semantics, but there are important distinctions. Gratefulness opens us to the opportunity to experience gratitude in every moment. Gratefulness is gratitude for life. It reminds us that, in simply being alive, we are always receiving.

– Kristi Nelson

Kristi Nelson highlights Five Guiding Principles. I begin here with just the first principle with my own related thoughts. The first principle is LIfe is a Gift.

  • Life is a Gift – She starts out simply with this principle. Can I see my life itself as a gift? I know there were times when I felt lost and alone and looked for the external to make me happy. Once I saw my life as a gift itself and that I had the power to shift my perspective, it became a true gift.
  • Greet Each Moment Gratefully – This is where I know I learned to bless every moment even if I didn’t even recognize it. I know in my life I had trauma and many unpleasant circumstances but they all led me to healing those self-judgments and other repetitive thoughts.
  • You Are Always Receiving – The practice of mindfulness assists me in knowing the flow of life with each breath. I receive nourishment with each breath of awareness. Of course, there is much in life to focus on, but breath keeps me alive and here in the present moment.

The Other Four Principles:

  • Everything is Surprise – Regard life as an unexpected gift.
  • The Ordinary is Extraordinary – Celebrate the ordinary in your life to know abundance.
  • Appreciation is Generative – Here is the shift from passively to actively engaging in life.
  • Love is Transformative – At our core we are love. It is essential to who we are as a human being and to those around us.

I will share more in the coming weeks and particularly in my new Mindfulness Class series that will highlight gratitude and Kristi’s book starting November 29th. Details below.

Try This

Take some time today to discover the powerful effect gratitude can have on your mood and outlook. Tuning in to that sense of gratitude alone will bring more joy, peace, and passion into your life. For example, a heart-centered meditation will help you experience the healing energy of your own heart where gratitude resides.

Take a gratitude walk. Drop what you’re doing for 15 minutes and, if you can, go outside and start walking. The rule is that during your walk, you are not allowed to think about work or replay scenarios (real or imagined) in your head and follow as such:

First, focus only on the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, your legs stretching and your hips opening up, your breathing getting deeper and more relaxed. Then turn your attention to all of the things in your life that you are happy about–whether it’s a loving relationship, a nice home, or a satisfying career. Now let those more obvious things give way to the more subtle things that you might never have thought about, but also contribute joy to your life, that infuse you with pure gratitude. At the end of these 15 minutes (or longer if you like), return to what you were doing and notice your energy. Has it changed? How do you feel now?

Original post 11/10/21

Deb Phelps

Deb Phelps

Deb Phelps is a certified Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher, and Practitioner since 1980. She is also a Mindfulness Coach, Sound Energy Practitioner, and Yoga Specialist who uniquely assists her clients to overcome stress, anxiety, PTSD, grief, and other life situations so that they can once again live purposeful, joy-filled lives. Deb has overcome significant life challenges aided by a variety of mind-body-spirit practices. By diligently using these tools over many decades, she found a life of contentment and equanimity. Through extensive education and life experience, including living for one year in a spiritual community, she assists and inspires others to do the same. ~ Deb Phelps, C.MI, MMT, E-RYT500, LVCYT, YACEP

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