Gratitude is an amazing opener. And there are so many ways of utilizing it in your day to bring you back to that sacred connection with life. Anything you are doing, especially the least desired things you are doing, can be transformed by just a small handful of genuine, embodied moments of deep gratitude. In other words, it is not enough just to think the words of gratitude, you need to feel the words as they roll through your mind in a way where at some level you become that feeling of gratitude.
So let’s say I’m stuck in traffic, and I’m really late for something critical, and my cell phone is dead and there’s just nothing I can do but sit there and wait for traffic to clear up. Sure, there are always lots of personal things that you could be grateful for, but rather than go straight to the easy stuff, let’s make it more situation specific.
How about being grateful for even having a car? Think about the olden days when people had to walk to town, or the people in this and other countries whose lives would be transformed if they only had a car: being stuck in traffic would be a good problem to have. What about the amazing feat of engineering that went into having the roads to drive on and how most days they carry you swiftly and safely from place to place? How about a shout out to the fact that you had enough money that you could buy the car? And then there’s the gratitude for how many times you travel each year without getting into an accident. Oh, and another good one is gratitude for all the parts of the car that are absolutely overlooked but that function without any effort or intention from you.
And if I’m in a really tough spot, and there’s just nothing I can find in my situation to bring gratitude to, I turn my gratitude to my breath. Without it, I wouldn’t be here to experience this mess I’m in. :) I express gratitude for my heart for circulating, and for my brain for processing. I try to consider those organs inside me that I have absolutely no awareness of whatsoever, but that do whatever it is that they do without any instruction from me, thereby freeing me up to focus my attention on other things. Incredible…
And from there, the real test of gratitude is gratitude for the mess you find yourself in: after all, it provided a cue for you to awaken, and an opportunity to practice gratitude. By connecting to life in that way, you open yourself up to possible solutions that you simply couldn’t see before.
Another way you can utilize gratitude is to consider all the “things” in your life. The things that bring you joy are the easy ones, and from there you may start noticing those things that are so often overlooked and discover a renewed spark from them. But the things that bring you pain are again the real test. Finding gratitude for those things and how they can serve, if nothing else, to remind you to awaken and reclaim your connection to life is indeed something worth a moment of deep gratitude.
And a final tip: next time you find yourself saying, “Oh, if I only had (fill in the blank), then I’d be so happy!”, stop and say it again, only this time replace the word “happy” with the word “grateful” and see how that feels. That feeling will be a big indicator as to whether or not you really need that thing.
And if you can genuinely embody that feeling of gratitude just a handful of times each day, it will lead you to discovering the happiness that you already have but which, like so many other things in your life, was just simply being overlooked.