Gratitude is more than a feeling, and feeling grateful is a choice to live life in such a way that every moment is an opportunity to experience grace, love, and light.
“Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley
Feeling Grateful Is a Practice
Gratitude doesn’t usually just spring up out of nowhere, especially when life seems stressful. Feeling grateful happens through consistent practice and commitment, and the reward is that you will be less stressed and happier, whether the day is good or difficult.
For instance, writing in a gratitude journal before bed each evening has been shown, according to Dr. Martin Seligman’s research, to boost happiness within one week, and to provide increasing benefits over the next six months.
The practice of keeping a gratitude journal consists of writing down three to five things that went well during the day that you’re grateful for, along with a short, causal explanation for each good thing (why it happened).
My gratitude journal has helped me stay calm in the midst of chaos, prevent stress from lingering too long, bring positivity to the forefront, focus on what’s going well, stay humble, stay hopeful, and get to know myself (and how my mind works) better.
Journaling isn’t the only way to encourage an attitude of gratitude. Here are a few more gratitude exercises worth trying.
Feeling Grateful Is an Opportunity
Sometimes, and probably most times, seemingly negative outcomes trigger positive outcomes. Though it’s easier to be grateful when something positive has happened, we can be grateful when negative things happen, too. As David Steindl-Rast notes in his popular Ted Talk, we can be grateful in every given moment. Here is a portion of his talk:
Opportunity is the gift within every gift, and we have this saying, opportunity knocks only once. Well, think again. Every moment is a new gift, over and over again, and if you miss the opportunity of this moment, another moment is given to us, and another moment. We can avail ourselves of this opportunity, or we can miss it, and if we avail ourselves of the opportunity, it is the key to happiness.
Behold the master key to our happiness in our own hands. Moment by moment, we can be grateful for this gift.
Does that mean that we can be grateful for everything? Certainly not. We cannot be grateful for violence, for war, for oppression, for exploitation. On the personal level, we cannot be grateful for the loss of a friend, for unfaithfulness, for bereavement.
But I didn’t say we can be grateful for everything.
I said we can be grateful in every given moment for the opportunity, and even when we are confronted with something that is terribly difficult, we can rise to this occasion and respond to the opportunity that is given to us… by learning something which is sometimes painful. Learning patience, for instance.
We have been told that the road to peace is not a sprint, but is more like a marathon. That takes patience. That’s difficult. It may be to stand up for your opinion, to stand up for your conviction. That’s an opportunity that is given to us.
To learn, to suffer, to stand up, all these opportunities are given to us, but they are opportunities, and those who avail themselves of those opportunities are the ones that we admire. They make something out of life. And those who fail get another opportunity.
We always get another opportunity. That’s the wonderful richness of life.
We can be grateful even when seemingly bad things have happened, for there’s an opportunity in every given moment. And if we miss this opportunity, there’s another waiting for us in the next moment.
When we actively look for opportunities that a negative event triggers, we’re less inclined to judge the outcome, for we know that certain positive outcomes wouldn’t have arisen without this event. The things we label as “good” often come from the “bad” things that happen.
Gratitude Changes Everything
Feeling grateful is a commitment, through the good times and the bad.
When you consciously devote your energy to feeling grateful–regardless of the situation but because of the opportunity given to you through it–everything changes. If you’re grateful here and now, you realize that you don’t have to go anywhere else for the perfect moment. You can register the beauty of this moment.
Gratitude is one of the great highways to living an enriched life. When there’s mindfulness and gratitude, happiness is not far away. It’s one thing to count your blessings, but it’s another level of experience to cultivate gratitude for every given moment–to see the light in everything.
By feeling grateful here, you start to change this moment right in front of your own eyes. If you stay on that path and in that frequency of gratitude, you start to string together happier moments. Keep going, and your day starts to change. Then, your practice of noticing the opportunity in everything starts to change your life.
Another moment–another chance to love.
You may enjoy this affirmation for gratitude.
- Are you willing to look for the opportunity in every given moment, whether positive or negative?
- What are you grateful for today?
- How has gratitude changed your life?
Please share your own grateful thoughts, lessons, and joyful experiences with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone who might appreciate the message.
I’d like to quote Bryant McGill here: “Love is such a deep gratitude. When you are truly in love with life, every breath you take is gratitude.”