Happiness and success: why gratitude is absolutely necessary!
It has become increasingly clear to me that, without genuine, heartfelt gratitude, there can be no real happiness, and no meaningful success. Gratitude feeds and expands the spirit, and increases emotional and physical well-being. It is, in itself, a power house of energy… a totally life-enhancing force!
I first began to recognise just how important gratitude is, when I realised that, largely speaking, the unhappiest people I worked with were struggling with what I have come to call a ‘low gratitude mentality’. Faced with a flat, unenthusiastic demeanour, or even out-and-out negativity or hostility, I would attempt to begin to reach them by asking, “so, what is good about your life? What gives you a sense of gratitude?”. I was often surprised and saddened to be told, “nothing at all”, or, for there to be only one or two things that were deemed worthy of appreciation, such as: “my family and my work; my husband and my health; my children and my friends; my own ability to survive”. Of course, all of these things are undeniably worthy and precious… but surely there is more?
I would try to encourage them to think outside of the box, and bring to mind anything at all that could be added to the gratitude list, but was frequently met with a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders. Now, I do understand how trapped we can all become, within our own familiar corridor of thinking, unaware of the fact that we are operating on auto pilot… and so I would throw a few clues into the mix, hoping to elicit a few ‘aha’ moments! And if this didn’t work, I would resort to being more direct, asking: “Okay, did you wake up in a warm bed, of any sorts, this morning? Did you have access to something to eat and drink? Do you have people in your life who love you, and whom you love? Do you and your loved ones have access to education, medical care, technology and transport? Do you live in a relatively civil part of the world, allowing you the luxury of free speech? Do you already have achievements under your belt, at this moment in time, courtesy of your own efforts? Do you still have time in this life, to work on at least some of your dreams…?”
And the response would usually be: “Well, yes, but you just take those things for granted, don’t you?” And that, I believe, is exactly where the problem lies, as seems clear from the following definitions from the Urban Dictionary:
To expect someone or something to be always available to serve in some way without thanks or recognition; to value someone or something too lightly.
Now, most of us would consider ourselves grateful for all that life has bestowed upon us… but the question is, ARE we, honestly and truly? We might be appreciative of the obvious things, without actually giving them too much thought, and we probably have odd moments throughout our day in which something makes us smile, or reminds us of the beauty of the world, or of the basic decency of the human race… but, are we consistently, deliberately, consciously grateful? In my experience, it isn’t an automatic process, and generally requires ongoing awareness and effort!
All of us have been fortunate enough to come across inspirational individuals, who have faced the most dreadful adversity, but who, nevertheless, retain a strong sense of dignity, and who express genuine gratitude for even the smallest of mercies. There is something incredibly humbling about being in their company.
On the other hand, there is nothing encouraging about being around someone who consistently views the world through critical, unappreciative, even fatalistic eyes. Yes, it is true that some people are held prisoner by deep-seated, depressive moods, but luckily most of us don’t fall into that category… we have just become so caught up in everyday living, we have lost our sense of wonder, and our shine has lost its sparkle! And I have met with too many young people who have never actually been taught how to be grateful; they may have heard the odd “finish your food, there are starving children in the world who would really appreciate that”, but when did that philosophy ever cut any ice with any kid faced with a plateful of something he hates? Never. There is also a way of looking at life that suggests that gratitude is only for the privileged, a belief which comes from a place of envy, and of destructive comparison. From what I have observed, it is impossible to get onto the same level as the source of our envy and resentment, when operating from that belief. Being grateful is not just a ‘good’ thing to do… it is absolutely essential to our well-being, progression and success!
However, it also has to be said that it is possible to turn gratitude into a crusade against abundance. I myself have fallen prey to this in the past, and I have met others who have done the same. We feel that we should be grateful for just being able to scrape by in life… living hand to mouth, feeling bad for needing and wanting more, because others have even less than we do. I cannot tell you how debilitating this mindset is, and how wrong it is. It took me years of unnecessary struggle to get myself into an emotionally healthier place, where I could not only be grateful for the good that came my way, but embrace it and welcome more of it! The planet, and the human race, absolutely do not need the energy that comes from a poverty mindset… they need, and benefit from, quite the opposite!
Heartfelt gratitude is also completely necessary, when we are attempting to positively utilise the law of attraction. I have seen (and been guilty of) some very unhelpful attitudes, where LOA is concerned: resentment towards those who promote it, and who are doing well for themselves; impatient claims that it doesn’t ‘work’; begging and pleading with the universe for more money; wanting more, whilst also believing that LOA is only about the desire for mega wealth, and therefore greedy. I finally came to understand that the law of attraction is an absolutely neutral form of energy that can only resonate with, and respond to, that with which it is consistently presented… and that it will eventually form a positively productive relationship with gratitude, because it is a vital component of the lightest, brightest, most honest and pure human emanation: love. Sometimes, much time seems to pass before we get to see, feel or hold the physical manifestation of our desires, but recognising and acknowledging its eventual arrival is imperative: gratitude always positively increases the momentum and flow of creative power.
I recently realised that something I had been visualising for a fairly long period of time had suddenly come to pass! And I also recognised that I had worked hard, consistently, to clean up my act, and to steer away from impatience and negativity, where my hopes and dreams were concerned. I believe that gratitude, which now comes more easily to me (and I don’t say that as a boast, I promise you), has been an important factor. It just so happens that negativity, fear and doubt also come easily to me, if I don’t maintain awareness. I WANT to be thankful, every single day, because it feels good, and is hugely more satisfying than believing that life is leaving me behind, or that the universe doesn’t give a stuff about me! I do still have to dig deep, every now and then, especially when I am exhausted, and running on empty, but I have found that awareness at least allows me to engage in damage limitation, whenever necessary.
And do you know what? When I suddenly recognised the physical manifestation of a visualised goal, I had a bit of a wobble! First of all I experienced wonder, but it was quickly followed by a horribly uncomfortable sense of unworthiness… and I realised that I had to face it head on, and make peace with my bit of good fortune, and I had to do it QUICKLY! I talked it through with the great creative force of life, out loud, on my own in the car, and felt 100% better, and definitely worthy of what I had created and attracted into my life! And I have been saying ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’, ever since!
Making time for the things that inspire and refresh us is as important as eating and drinking… it is nourishment for our spirit! For me, walking with our beloved dog around our local wood and along the beach is always uplifting, and even more so when I have my favourite music blasting through my headphones. Nature and music together create an incredible, energetic vibration that courses through every fibre of my being!
I also find that physical exercise helps me to feel mentally and emotionally stronger, and kickboxing has really enhanced my life. I have a very long way to go, and occasionally have to talk myself into going to class, but I am always glad that I did.
I love the conversations I have with my two daughters, about life and all of its nuances, and I truly revel in their wit and intelligence. With them, I enjoy the kind of discussions I don’t have with anyone else!
I am blessed to see my son with his little family, and am so proud of them all. He has, in the past, faced some heartbreaking times, but has pushed through them to create the life he now has. And I laugh so much when playing with my beautiful grandson, the kind of toddler who loves rough and tumble, and being dangled upside down. Recently, we were play-fighting over a toy monkey, as I kept tugging it from his hands, saying, “mine!”, and he would grab it back and run away, shrieking with laughter. When I finally had to sit down, puffed out, he was having none of it, darting backwards and forwards, shouting, “Gamar mine, Gamar mine!” I was smiling for days afterwards, remembering the sound of that little voice, and the giddy laughter!
There are many, many other things that make life truly meaningful, and you will have your very own list. Go over it today, and don’t just stop at the obvious stuff! Every little nugget is precious, including things like the penny you found in the street. We have to be able to appreciate and be grateful for all ‘free’ money, even if it is only a penny, otherwise how can we be open to larger amounts? I remember the time my partner and I were in the beer tent at a motorbike rally, and I spotted a 20 pence piece on the floor. I bent down to pick it up, and he (Mr Self-Conscious), was embarrassed, telling me to leave it where it was. Of course I ignored him, reminding him that I would be giving the wrong message to the creative force of life if I did so. The following evening we were standing in exactly the same spot… and there on the floor was a 10 pound note! Of course, he had no qualms about me picking that up, and as I did, I smugly informed him that, if I had ignored the 20p, I probably wouldn’t have found the £10!
Anyway, suffice to say, genuine gratitude is a force of positive, creative power, available to all of us, but one that we often need to be consciously mindful of, in order for it to be most effective in our life. If you have taken the time to read this blog, all the way through, I thank you! And if no-one reads it, I am grateful for the chance to have put some of my thoughts and feelings into words, and to have worked on my writing skills. It’s all good, either way!