Do good for yourself and you will do good for the world
This might not be a secret, but being grateful makes us better people. The fact that so many traditions and religions around the world consider it a fundamental value can’t be a coincidence.
More than a feeling, gratitude is a practice. We can say ‘thank you’ many times a day without thinking it, but filling up with gratitude is a conscious decision.
I’m sharing this because I recently started my own gratitude practice. Since then I feel more grounded and content. It’s helped me put a lot of things in perspective. Things that can irritate me now seem a lot smaller if I compare them with everything I’m grateful for.
Some people say you are what you eat, I think you are what you think. If you think positive thoughts, don’t take anything for granted and are grateful for everything, you become full of abundance—or as I like to think of it, grateFULL.
This practice has made me recognize that I own nothing, and that like everyone, I am just a passerby in this world. Giving thanks reminds me that nothing is mine and that I’m part of something much bigger.
“Gratitude is the confidence in life itself. In it, we feel how the same force that pushes grass through cracks in the sidewalk invigorates our own life. In Tibet, the monks and nuns even offer prayers of gratitude for the suffering they have been given: ‘Grant that I might have enough suffering to awaken in me the deepest possible compassion and wisdom’.” These are the words of Jack Kornfield, an American author and buddhism practitioner who teaches about gratefulness.
Being thankful can make us grow and evolve, but it requires internal work and self-reflection. Just like the Tibetan monks practice it, gratitude involves appreciating not only the good and pleasant things, but also saying thanks to the challenges life brings us.
At first this isn’t easy. The good thing is that the effects of gratitude are instantaneous and also cumulative, it can make you feel better quickly and over time can change the way you see the world.
Gratitude works because it allows us to celebrate the present. Also this mentality blocks out toxic emotions. It’s impossible to feel jealous and grateful at the same time. These are the conclusions of Robert A. Emmons, a professor of psychology in UC Davis and a leader in scientific research on gratefulness.
Aside from making us think positively, gratitude can be good for us. Science has found, based on numerous studies, the following benefits:
- Physically, gratitude helps us:
- Have stronger immune systems
- Be less annoyed by pains
- Maintain a low blood pressure
- Motivates us to do more exercise and take better care of our health
- To sleep better
- Provokes a higher level of positive emotions
- Makes us feel more alert and awake
- Brings us more happiness and pleasure
- In our social relations, it inspires us to…
- Be more willing to help, be generous and compassionate
- To be more comprehensive
- To be more extroverted
- To feel less alone
As I’ve already told you, gratitude is a conscious mindset that can be practiced. If we want to feel its full benefits, we must incorporate it into our lives.
These are some ways to start your gratitude practice:
- Write down every day a list of at least five things you’re grateful for. It can be anything, from something small to the most difficult thing in your life. The key here is to make it a daily habit.
- If writing is not your thing, make a mental list. You can do it every morning or before going to bed. Sit down and breathe. When you’re ready, begin listing everything you’re thankful for.
- Count your blessings. Literally. This exercise is similar to the mental list, but instead of thinking of each thing, you count them. Maybe the number will change everyday, but the intention will remain the same.
- Follow a guided meditation about gratitude. Online you can find plenty of options from different traditions. Try to find what vibes with you in this moment.
I want us all to practice gratitude together!
That’s why starting today, and for the next seven days, I will be consciously practicing gratitude. I will be doing it through meditations and above all, with the intention of staying present and thanking everything that comes my way (good, pretty, ugly, EVERYTHING).
Use the hashtag #begratefulwithpaulina in the next week and share with me your gratefulness practice.
Let’s start with these questions: What are you grateful for in your life? Who makes you feel gratitude?
Tell me using the hashtag!