We say: Thank You, Thanks, Cheers, Dank u wel, Danke schön, Merci, Grazie, Gracias, Efharisto, Tak, … We say it all the time and that’s a good thing! But do we actually think about what we’re saying? Do we feel gratitude while saying it?
“It’s not happy people who are grateful,
It’s grateful people who are happy.”
If we start saying ‘Thank you’ more consciously, our whole world will start feeling different.
When we say thank you for getting a coffee for instance, and we picture someone making the coffee, putting some milk on the side, a cookie maybe and then that person bringing it over to us. That way we don’t take it for granted, we realize someone took an effort for us and we’ll be able to put more gratitude in our words, we’ll really mean it when we say ‘thank you’.
When a friend is listening to your story, and you see the time they took to come over, to be there for you, and to actually listen to you, you will feel a lot of gratitude while saying ‘thank you for being here’.
The more we make the effort to look and see what is happening around us, we’ll always find things to be grateful for, lots of things. It’s a matter of looking for the good in people, in situations. You can change your whole world, just by looking at it from a perspective of gratitude. I often quote our wonderful teacher dr. Wayne Dyer. One of his very famous sayings is:
“When you change the way you look at things,
the things you look at, change.”
And that is so true! Choose to look at your world from a different point of view. Choose to look at it from this angle of gratitude. We take so much for granted, we are so quick to criticize, we’re always looking for something to be different, ‘better’, … but if we choose to start developing this feeling of gratitude, if we start feeding this thought*, this feeling of gratitude, it’ll become a habit to look at things from a place of feeling grateful. And ‘suddenly’ we’ll feel luckier, happier, richer, more loved, … we are content. The 14th Dalai Lama** says this beautifully:
“When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, “Oh yes, I already have everything I really need.”
Stopping to take everything for granted, will lead us to feeling contentment and « enoughness ». And that again will lead us to being satisfied with our lives.
Isn’t that what we, ultimately, all want? Living a satisfying life?
I think it’s an interesting and rewarding point of view, to look at what you have, and feel grateful and content about it. Because the other possibility is: never feeling satisfied with what you have and constantly looking for things that -hopefully- will bring you this feeling of satisfaction.
Brené Brown*** found overwhelming evidence that gratitude is good for us on every level: physical, emotional and mental. She found results from multiple researchers that gratitude is correlated with better sleep, increased creativity, decreased entitlement, decreased hostility and aggression, increased decision-making skills, decreased blood pressure, ….
When I was reading in The Atlas of the Heart*** the quote of Professor of Psychology of California, Davis and editor in chief of ‘The Journal of Positive Psychology’ Emmons, all the pieces of the puzzle fell in place in my head: because our emotional system likes newness, the positive emotion of having something new, wears off quickly, we adapt to this new life easily. So, we always want something new rather quickly. But with gratitude, we appreciate the value of what we have, we are more conscious about it and we are less likely to take it for granted. The feeling of contentment lasts.
“… instead of adapting to goodness, we celebrate goodness….
With gratitude we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators.”
As I have written in many of my articles, you can consciously steer your thoughts* and the quality of your thoughts determines the quality of your feelings. If you create a routine to develop this feeling of gratitude, if you practice gratitude daily, it will become your way of looking at the world, it will be your way to feel happy and content in life, it will be your way of living a healthy life. Write down what was good today, write down what put a smile on your lips, what warmed your heart today. The fact of going back to that positive moment, writing it down, pondering it for a moment, reliving this warm feeling, makes you feel grateful, content, happy, loved. Create a gratitude practice that works for you and do it daily. That way it will become a habit, a new connection in your brain, your new modus operandi.
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*”Which Thoughts Are You Feeding?” by Katrien Degraeve
**Quote from the 14th Dalai Lama in Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown
***”Atlas of the Heart” by Brené Brown