Gratitude is a word that gets thrown around a lot. People claim that without it, life passes you by. If you aren’t truly grateful for the things you already have, you will constantly be seeking more. Be it possessions, friends, love, looks, marks, money – you will always want more. I personally never really bought into this idea. How can something as simple as an idea really change anything? But, much to my fascination, it can. It did. It continues to.
This one is for all you cynics out there that don’t believe in gratitude, mindfulness or happiness, which, it may shock you to learn, go hand in hand. It is quite rare to have one without the other.
I took this photo on a warm afternoon with my friend, sitting on my couch. The afternoon sun was filtering in through my balcony window, and the steam from my freshly made cup of tea curled upward in the shaft of light. Without gratitude, I would not have loved that moment as much as I did – simply sitting with the love of my life, drinking my favourite drink on an afternoon with no worries. Moments like these are what make our lives worth living.
How present are you, truly? Are you skimming over this post because you’re bored? Or are you absorbing every word? What are you doing, feeling, thinking, right now? How does each individual part of your body feel? Are your thoughts controlling you?
Pause. Breathe deeply. Again. Be present. What can you see? What can you hear? What can you smell, taste touch? Presence in the moment is the first step to being grateful. Trust me, it takes time. You have to train yourself. But without being present, you can’t truly find your gratitude for the things that surround you. How could you, if you aren’t really paying attention to them?
This is one of my favourite photos. My lovely candle burning on a bedside table I put together. Something so simple may not bring you joy if you are not adept at being grateful, but when I see this candle lit I am grateful for the beautiful smell, the way the flames flicker in the gentle breeze, how I am able to light whatever candle I want because I am able to live alone. The moment you stop treating the world like it’s out for you and treating yourself like its victim, you can find such perfect, hidden moments.
You can feel gratitude in your body. When you think about something you are truly grateful for, be it time, family, your pets or friends, try and pinpoint that exact warm feeling in yourself, and try to replicate it as much as you can.
I like to write my gratitudes down when it becomes too hard. Taking a moment to actually put ink on paper and not pixels on a screen is one thing, and using that ink to pen what it is you’re grateful for and why is on a whole other level. You don’t need a fancy notebook for this; scrap paper will do. This journal is from Kikki K.
When was the last time you watched the sun set? Can you remember how the sky flares up gold and blood orange and intertwines with the oncoming night sky? Take ten minutes out of your evening and watch the sun disappear. Accept that another day has passed, and another will begin again.
Try and create gratitude as a habit. Build it into your daily routine. There are always things to be grateful for, and you can always start small. You are grateful for the sunshine or the rain, your bed, your friend, your favourite TV show. Begin at things you are easily grateful for, and progress into things that are more difficult to feel gratitude towards.
When you realise what an insignificant spec you are in the scheme of the country, the world, the infinite universe, the easier it becomes to see your worth and wonderfulness.
What is it that lights you up? What sets that spark alight in you? Every time you do that thing, feel the gratitude that you are able to. Do the thing more. Repeat.
To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kindness that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude. — Albert Schweitzer
It can help to have a gratitude centre. Here, I have a map of my favourite place in the world, Hong Kong, some fairy lights, a picture of the stars, a plant and some of my favourite books. Whenever I look at it, I can truly feel the gratitude rising up in me, which stimulates me to feel it more throughout my day.
Remember – gratitude is a skill. You must hone it and practice it as much as you can. Maybe this seems too much like hard work, but trust me when I say, the beauty of it can change you.
This post was a bit different from my usual content, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let me know if you would like more in this style. Love you all.