Gratitude- the quality of being thankful. Much has been written on gratitude over the years. If you google "gratitude" a ton of articles will come up citing how studies have shown that, in order to increase happiness, one can intentionally cultivate gratitude. Many people keep gratitude journals for exactly this reason. I love the concept of this, but it never quite worked for me. By the end of the day, when I would try to write down three things I was thankful for, it would almost always be, family, friends, health etc... the very obvious ones that always come to my mind first. It was harder for me to remember the millions of little things that I had to feel thankful for throughout the day. Truthfully, I've always felt that gratitude can be very elusive. Begin speaking, thinking or planning and it can be gone in an instant. Our consumer culture makes it very difficult to notice what we have to be thankful for, without the tendency to immediately move on to more wants, more goals.
It took me years to realize that my experience of gratitude is very visceral. It would feel like my heart was swelling, and I would say, "my heart feels big" and it took a while for me to realize that that feeling was gratitude. Now, when that big heart feeling comes over me, I'll simply think "hold onto this, hold onto this.." and it helps. Rather than keep a gratitude journal, I try to cultivate gratitude by increasing mindfulness and focusing on the present as much as possible. Of course, I fail at this all. the. time. BUT the act of simply trying, helps me slow down enough to notice the simple things I have to be thankful for everyday.
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