We are all seeking contentment, serenity, happiness. How can we achieve this elusive state of calm, tranquility and well-being?
Actually the answer is simple. Try to focus on being grateful every single day, every hour, every minute of our daily lives. It sounds too good to be true. But it’s not. It is simple and straight forward. Here’s how…….
When you wake up in the morning notice and pay attention to everything around you, the comfort of your bedroom, birds singing in the trees, a breeze blowing outside the window. There is joy in the wind, rain, sun and snow. Spare a thought for the atmosphere of the Earth providing a mantle of air for us to breathe and offering us protection from extremes of temperature. A unique environment that enables us to flourish and thrive. Isn’t it incredible that we live on a planet that sustains life – the only one that we know of – now that is worthy of serious gratitude.
Enjoy a morning cup of tea or coffee in your favourite cup or mug. Appreciate the taste, smell, feeling of comfort. Indulge yourself with a few moments of time and relaxation before the tasks of the day begin. Take a moment to feel grateful, fortunate and calm.
A few days ago my husband bought me a very thoughtful gift – a fountain pen and note book. The pen is metallic blue with a silver nib, when I write the words seem to flow, almost without effort, out of my pen tip. The colour of the pen is a rich, deep blue with a slight hint of iridescence. The note book is a perfect size and is filled with silky smooth pages. The paper entices me to fill it with words. I think about how pleased I am to receive these gifts – I stop what I’m doing and I send him a message, telling him that I’m thinking of him and that I love these presents. I tell him he is appreciated and that I am grateful. He is delighted! We both feel good!
Gratitude comes in many forms. It is important to appreciate every person around you who contributes to your day; work colleague, delivery person, hair-dresser, parking attendant, even a grumpy, mean boss! They are all participating in the daily rhythm of life and should be acknowledged with a few kind words, a smile. This demonstration of gratitude makes them and us feel good. The response that it gains, in my experience, is out of proportion to the effort required. Don’t forget that sincerity is vital. You have to mean what you say!
The really great thing about gratitude is that you don’t need other people around to experience it. Just the other day I was driving through the borders of Scotland admiring the pure, celestial blue sky, craggy barren hills and the verdant green valleys. Here in this beautiful open countryside is the source of both the River Clyde and River Tweed. The Clyde flows out into the sea at Glasgow. For centuries it has provided drinking water for this large city and a safe haven for ships. The presence of the river allowed the city of Glasgow to grow and thrive. By the middle of the 18th century it was the largest port in Scotland and the biggest ship builders. Meanwhile on the east coast the River Tweed flows into the North Sea. The Tweed provides a perfect environment for a large salmon population which thrives here. During the 17th century water wheels generated the power to weave local wool into the famous ‘tweed’ cloth that is still produced to this day. Tweed is ‘quintessentially’ British – worn by Sherlock Holmes, The Queen, Winston Churchill, probably even James Bond!
This wonderful relationship between human beings and our spectacular natural environment is to be cherished and respected. It should always be appreciated. Another opportunity to feel gratitude.
I love to hear stories, tales of people’s lives. I met a lady recently who has just opened a Tea Shop in the heart of this magnificent scenery. Her husband had a serious accident last year and was unable to continue with his job. Husband and wife put their thinking caps on, concentrated on what they had and decided to start a small business – café and gift shop. They opened earlier this year, working together in a clean, bright, airy atmosphere. Simple delicious food, friendly service, a perfect cup of tea and an interesting selection of gifts. They love running the business, they feel positive, grateful – for how things have turned out.
It seems to me that the key to gratitude, real, genuine gratitude is that it shifts the emphasis from the ‘me, me, me’ culture that surrounds us to larger, more important issues. This subtle shift moves us away from the egocentric mania that blights our society and our lives. Instead we focus on appreciating what we have, considering those around us and feeling grateful, truly grateful. This is about finding joy, beauty, pleasure in the smallest thing. A rain drop balanced on a perfect creamy rose petal. Birds splashing in a fountain. A child concentrating on a game – forehead furrowed, tongue out, completely absorbed.
As soon as we shift our focus away from ‘me’ to all that surrounds us the world opens up and the possibilities are endless. I urge you to start thinking differently today. Right now. Enjoy the liberation, calm and tranquility that gratitude and appreciation bring. What I’ve noticed for sure is that with gratitude and appreciation, not only do you experience more possibilities – you encounter far more opportunities too.
Now isn’t that magical!
As a post script – I bought some beautiful shea butter soaps that day in Scotland. I still use these soaps several years later. The soaps have a great heritage too. They are made in Scotland using ethically sourced and produced shea butter. The soap is made up as part of a social enterprise – employing disadvantaged people. I’d strongly recommend the soap. It can be bought online at: www.carishea.com
- With thanks to Debbie Phillips who got me thinking about ‘gratitude’ as a concept.
- To discuss these ideas further don’t hesitate to comment on this blog
- If you prefer you can e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The photograph below was taken by me in the Scottish Borders. It has not been tampered with in any way. This was the scene before my eyes!
Updated – 11-12-15 / 04-06-18