Are you truly grateful?

“The grateful mind is constantly fixed upon the best; therefore it tends to become the best; it takes the form or character of the best, and will receive the best” 

-Wallace D. Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich

We tend to think that being grateful is connected to saying “thank you” at the correct moment, but the reality is that these words in response to someone else’s action are just an etiquette to prove whether or not we are polite members of society. 

Surprising, I tell my nieces off each time they forget to say “thank you”. This makes me question the way in which I was taught to be grateful (maybe your upbringing was similar) and how this education lasts for generations.

The way in which we currently practice gratitude has turned an emotion into an empty concept, a formality required to be a good person. As an essential part of our day to day, the insistence that it’s used often turns this vulnerable action into something automatic or even irritating. The frequency with which we say “thank you” can result in us denying the feeling, because it requires us to recognize a need from a position of vulnerability and that can hurt our egos.

Please don’t misunderstand, it’s still important to say “thank you”. However, being grateful, when it’s actually felt, is powerful. When we’re able to connect with the emotion and feel it in our bodies, it’s an experience that can improve our lives and support our mental health.

Gratitude and resilience

There’s a large number of studies that prove gratitudes positive impact on our minds and bodies. The most notable is the impact that it has on our resilience.

Being conscious of and grateful for what we have are positive feelings that maintain our minds. Gratitude helps us to see obstacles from a different perspective, and even to identify and understand the learnings that come from difficult times. *wink, wink*

We might think that gratitude is just a moment of reflection when everything goes well, or to plan, but that’s not necessarily true. Maintaining a mindset of gratitude during hard times, encourages us to change the way we see things and to understand that everything happens for a reason, a reason that invites us to change and improve.

So, if gratitude has so many benefits, why is being truly grateful not easy?

According to Dr. Rick Hanson, our brains are predisposed to negative aspects, this means that there’s a bias towards the negative elements of difficult experiences, causing them to have a bigger impact than the positive elements, this is why we tend to remember terrible experiences.

Good news is that gratitude is an ability that can be developed.

Exercising gratitude

We already know that habits are the key, to develop our gratitude it’s all about consistency. Here are some cool internet practices, and personal ones to exercise our gratitude:

– Keep a diary of gratefulness: Although this one might sound a little bit cheesy, a good technique is to write from 3 to 5 things/situations you’re grateful for everyday.

You can start by doing it one time per week, then two and so on until it becomes a habit. This is a great way to educate our minds to see that everything in our lives has a function.It doesn’t have to be a perfectly documented diary, it can be a quite simple activity if combined with digital tools.

Here are some cell phone apps that can help you out: Diarium, Dayone, journey.cloud, Penzu, Daylio and deardiary.a

– Practice a gratitude walk: Go out for a walk. While on your way to the store, walking around the neighbourhood or just while taking a break, use that spare time to think about what you’re grateful for that day or at that moment.

While walking, you can try to go over the alphabet and be grateful for something related to each letter, that is: I’m grateful for the apple I had for breakfast today, the birds chirping next to my room when I woke up…. and so on. This can also be combined with your exercise routine or those important breaks from work.

These may seem like very “active” ways to practice gratitude, but the most important thing is to stop and think about the present. If you’re not into running, keeping a diary or going through the alphabet, a good way of being grateful is to focus on experiences.

– Be grateful for experiences: There’s a difference between being grateful for “The neighbourhood I live in” and “For that time it was raining and I forgot my keys, and my neighbours helped me to…”. This way, we’re turning gratitude into an experience, one that we’ve already lived and turns gratefulness into something more authentic.

This is my personal gratefulness routine. After I wake up, the first thing I do is to say thank you for waking up, my body is functioning, then I thank God and mother nature for a new day and for letting me connect with them, so my actions are aligned with my wellbeing and the ones that surround me.

Then I am thankful for the bed I’m in, my room, my house, my family and my job. This only takes 5 minutes of my time but helps me to start my day with energy and with the understanding that what might be basic for me, is not necessarily for others.

It’s important to resignify gratefulness as a way to give relevance to the present. It’s a great tool for avoiding the anxiety or stress about things we cannot change or what is about to happen, and it can help us to understand how much we deserve and have.

Ileana Castro

Ileana Castro

People & Admin

Following the best practices of failure by doing business with her best friend. At this moment, she is leading the People area in Fuckup Inc. helping people breaking free from their paradigms. Loves long and deep conversations, long walks, traveling, and swimming.

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