The Practice of Gratitude…

Dear Kindred Spirits,

One of the best ways to sustain greater levels of happiness, fulfillment and wellbeing is to practice cultivating an attitude of gratitude. In recent times, it has become popular to keep a Gratitude Journal where you make time each day to write down five things that you are grateful for. When I was first introduced to this practice, I completely embraced it and discovered the immediate benefits of becoming more positive in my energy and thinking. It was wonderful to feel that I was being gifted with many blessings each day if only I took the time to notice them.

To really connect with the feeling of gratitude, I would contemplate the following questions: Who or what inspired me today? What brought me happiness today? What brought me comfort or deep peace today?

I even observed that on very challenging days, if I persevered with finding things to be grateful for, it seemed to lift my spirits and give me a sense of hope. Often, on such days, I would write something as simple as:” I am grateful that this day is over and tomorrow is another day.”

Keeping a Gratitude Journal even helped me to reframe painful experiences of the past by being grateful for the lessons I learned from them. Also, any worries about the future seemed to fade as I found myself being more present to each moment.

As more good entered my life, I wanted to assist others to do the same; I began incorporating ‘A Moment of Gratitude’ into my meditation classes. It was inspiring to listen to each participant share what they were grateful for and how the practice of gratitude was positively transforming their lives. It was also wonderful to notice how this simple sharing seemed to raise the energy of everyone present and further enhance the benefits of the meditation experience.

I even took this process a step further, by adding some Gratitude Intentions; saying thank you for things that I wanted to manifest by imagining what it would feel like if I actually received them! The best example of this was when I was selling my house. Everyday I would write:” I am so grateful for the perfect buyer who offers a price that is perfect in every way.” I really imagined the feelings of happiness I would experience and those positive feelings created an unwavering faith that seemed to carry me. A month later, the ‘perfect’ buyer presented who offered a price and even a settlement that was ‘perfect in every way!’

Recently, I have become even more inspired by this amazing practice when I read the story of a young woman called Hailey Bartholomew. In early 2008, in an effort to fight depression, Hailey started a photographic project that involved taking one Polaroid photo a day of something she felt grateful for. She revealed that initially this was a chore that eventually became a delight. The discipline of having to look for the good things that happened every day changed her life in so many ways. Hailey discovered that not only did her marriage, spiritual life and health improve, but her 365 Grateful Project began to spread and changed the lives of many people around the world!

After reading about the 365 Grateful Project, I have decided to give it a try. It’s only been a few days and I’m really enjoying looking for one special photograph for each day with a caption to remind me of the reason I chose it. It feels refreshing and fun to experiment with a new way to express gratitude! (Click here to visit: 365grateful.com)

Currently, I am also taking the advice of an inspiring Benedictine monk called Brother David Steindl-Rast, who suggests challenging yourself by not repeating items that you have previously given thanks for, as this will provide you with the opportunity to look more deeply at all the little things that enhance your life and give you joy. Following this wisdom is helping me to be even more present to each moment and more deeply in touch with the heartfelt feeling of gratitude. I really encourage you to take the next five minutes to view the beautiful video entitled “A Good Day”; you will hear the soothing voice of Brother David Steindl-Rast and his simple yet profound message of ‘Great-fullness’.

May you be inspired to commit to the practice of gratitude so that your daily life becomes more meaningful and filled with an abundance of joy!

Many Blessings, Norma