An Attitude of Gratitude
As a yoga teacher, I love to learn about the ancient wisdom of our ancestors and am always amazed by the fact that after thousands of years this guidance is as applicable and relevant today as it was back then. Recently, I’ve been exploring, working with and practising one of the great teachings of yogic philosophy – ‘gratitude’.
My practice has resulted in many positive shifts (subtle, but powerful none the less) for me, my family and it’s even changed the direction of my business for the better. I’d like to show you why gratitude is so good for us and how to open your heart to lasting thankfulness and appreciation – to ensure that every action you take (no matter how big or small) makes a positive difference to you, your family, your business, your clients and the world.
Why would we want to practice gratitude in the first place?
- Supports our mental health. Being grateful for the simple things in life counteracts stress and boosts our happiness.
- Encourages us to exercise more and eat nutritious food as we appreciate our bodies more.
- Makes us kinder and feel less lonely as we feel more connected to others and the world.
- Helps us sleep better, empowers us, boosts our immune system and even improves our cardiovascular health as gratitude relieves much of the stress and pressure we place on our hearts and minds.
- Leaves us feeling content and fulfilled so are we’re able to give back.
While I know I’ve always been grateful for my life, feeling grateful has always been fleeting and difficult to sustain, until more recently).
Gratitude is an experience of our loving-connection to everyone and everything in our life. When we feel grateful, we fill up our cup (so to speak) from the inside and as our heart swells we’re able to pour love into the world freely and without the need for anything to be given in return. So as we give we receive by experiencing the joy of giving ‘gratitude’ becomes a self-fulfilling, self-generating upward and expansive spiral of positivity for ourselves and the world.
On the other hand, when our mind ‘over-rides’ our loving-connection to protect us from perceived danger (which is a very normal, human reaction to life), we act and behave in a way that provokes feelings of anxiety and stress. This, in turn, prevents us from experiencing thankfulness and appreciation and the wonderful benefits that I just mentioned.
I’ve learned that to trigger the positive effects of gratitude from within we need to practice…
Take a ‘gratitude break’ regularly to notice all that’s available to you in the present moment: When we start to notice the little things like the sound of the wind in the trees or the leaves crunching under your feet, the warmth of your home or office, the comfort of the cup of tea in your hand, the colour of your clothing, seeing your children laugh and play, the taste of your favourite food or even the laptop on your knee that you’re able to do so much good with. When you begin to tune into the present moment and as you do, wonderful feelings begin to rise to the surface from within. This is such a simple and effective technique which I use A LOT.
Make the choice – gratitude is an attitude: Feeling busy, stressed, overwhelmed, tired, not enough etc., it’s something we can all relate to, as they go hand-in-hand with raising a family and running a business. They are a signal that our mind is currently in the driving seat instead of our heart.
The same goes for life experiences, when something goes ‘wrong’ in life or in our business we tend to come crashing down with it, but if we recognise that life is a learning opportunity and that every experience is an opportunity to become a better version of ourselves – we start to embrace the good, the bad and even the down-right ugly!
The ability to see emotions and life events as an opportunity to learn and grow gives us the opportunity to shift from a negative downward spiral to a positive upward spiral of momentum.
Get yourself a ‘Gratitude’ jar!
Whenever you remember, write something down that you feel grateful for and pop it in the jar. This is a nice family activity too. Whenever you feel down you can pick up a previous note and re-inspire yourself.
Tune into the inner-knowledge, that you are inherently loving and kind and you have a mission and a purpose: As you go about your day with your children and in your business, know that by nature, you are happy, content, loving, calm, supported, safe, kind and generous, with a mission and a purpose to do/offer something good in the world. When we let go of fears and anxiety generated by the mind, we can tune into all of these wonderful qualities and extend them out into the world.
“A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person, at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return.” Bhagavad Gita
While I was writing this blog I fell on and off the gratitude wagon several times! I’m going to pop a note into the jar – ‘I’m grateful to be able to express myself in a way that will help others.’
I do hope you find this small blog a big help!
With much love,