Gratitude has been a cornerstone in my spiritual transformation. It is a practice that took some time to integrate into my every day life, but now seems more like second nature to me. Growing up I never truly understood what it meant to practice “gratitude.” During the holiday season, I would hear adults saying that we should count our blessings and be grateful for what we had. Yet in the same breath I’d hear complaints and frustration about everything they lack and that is going wrong in their lives. If someone mentioned to be grateful, it was often met with an “of course I’m grateful” but there was a lack of feeling behind the words. This is how society has taught us to think. Society programs us to think from a place of lack, fear, and self-piety. We tend to spend a lot of time focusing on what we lack and how we will be happy when.
This holiday season I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with those I love, as well as getting to know new people. I’ve enjoyed incredible food and fun laughs in great company. But I took note of something during these gatherings that made me a bit sad. During this time of year we tend to go around the table and discuss the different things we are thankful/grateful for. And what I noticed was that many people truly struggled to come up with things they were grateful for or there was a lack of feeling behind the words. Now this was something that bothered me because it hit so close to home.
I was that same way years ago. I struggled with anxiety and depression. And my thoughts constantly revolved around what I lacked, why me statements, and I’ll be happy when statements. Sound familiar? I’m sure many of us are guilty of using those story lines. What I’ve learned over the years is that life is very dependent on our perspective of things. When I decided to make a radical change in my life, my first step was adopting an “Attitude of Gratitude.” Now changing our thought patterns can be significantly challenging and involve much time and effort. But before we get into that, I’d like to give everyone a little perspective on how blessed each one of us truly is.
“The world’s population is approximately 6.7 Billion.
3 billion people live on less than $2 per day.
1.3 billion of them on less than $1 per day.
Starvation claims one life every 3.6 seconds, usually a child under the age of 5.
If you have money in the bank, money in your wallet, and spare change somewhere around your house, you are amongst the richest 8% of the world’s population.
If you have a car, you are among the richest 7%
1% of the people in the world have a college education.
7% have computers
43% of the world lives without basic sanitation
Close to half of the people in developing countries are suffering at any given time from health problems caused by water and sanitation deficits
If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back a roof over your head, and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world.
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week.
If you never experienced the danger of battle the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation you are luckier than 500 million people alive and suffering
If you can read this message you are more fortunate than 3 Billion people in the world who cannot read at all.”
Really let that sink in. Now look around in your life. See how many blessings you truly have? Practicing gratitude can literally create MIRACLES in your life. When I began integrating an attitude of gratitude in my life I started off small. Every morning as I would go through my morning routine I would state out loud all the things I was grateful for, no matter how “small” they may seem. And as I would state what I was grateful for I made it a point to truly feel it in my heart. With time, I began keeping a gratitude journal where I would write nightly what I was grateful for. I noticed that I always felt much better about my life after these exercises and over time I began shifting my perception on life. Suddenly it seemed as though I had much more to be grateful for then to be upset about. Things that would have brought me down previously no longer carried great importance. Fast forward to present day and the transformational powers of gratitude continue to amaze me. I find myself living present in each moment and appreciating the little things in life. I find that the gratitude I set forth into the universe always comes back to me. And when I fall off the wagon and have moments of sadness or doubt, I get right back on the gratitude wagon and my mood quickly changes. Gratitude has been a cornerstone for me in my pursuit of happiness. I encourage you to take some time out to integrate Gratitude into your everyday practice and I promise you the results will amaze you. We all have so much to be grateful for.