Gratitude: How to restructure your life

The sun is high in a cloudless sky today. The moment I open the door, the pressure of heat slaps me square in the face.

I believe the sun may be trying to kill me.

Retreating quickly back into my wooden cave of drywall and oversized couches, I listen to the constant hum of the overworked AC. I’m sure if that thing had a conscience, it would hate me.

Sorry AC. Keep at it. I love you.

I wanted to talk about something different today, a concept that I feel like a lot of us just assumes is inherited. An idea we all just expect to come naturally. Gratitude.

Gratitude. Say it again. GRATITUDE.

What is it? Why is this something that I felt so strongly needed an entire, lengthily blog post discussing it? We all know to say thank you. Send out thank you cards after a party. Hug a friend for that special gift. Smile when you receive a compliment.

Now, let me ask you. How happy are you? Right now. How truly happy are you?

Do you wish you had more time? Do you wish you had a better job? A better relationship with someone? In the last few days have you felt over whelmed? Hid behind a TV or laptop to distract yourself from life’s pressures?

Gratitude isn’t inherited. We are not born with that understanding to appreciate all of the wonders around us, or the gifts handed to us, or even to appreciate the experiences we feel. Gratitude is a learnt behavior. A skill one must master just like woodworking, or knitting, or cooking. It takes time. Practice. Patience. It requires a clear, conscience and consistence effort. Gratitude is a form of thinking.

And like any skill it can fall out of habit very quickly when not practiced daily…

Happiness is sometimes confused with consumption. The more we have, the more we can measure our happiness. The act of feeling happy is assumed. If you have a job, a car, a spouse and a house; you should be happy. And if those things are filled to the brim with gadgets, trinkets, furniture and photos, you should be ecstatic.

The reailty is none of these things really bring happiness. We are all, on some level, miserable and watching as our days tick by. Why is that though? Why do we think we have to fill the gaping holes in our day with material things while continuing to find more things?

We are unhappy because we have focused our energy on the idea that consumption and consumerism are the only avenues to achieve happiness, when in reality the basic act of being grateful for what is already present is actually key.

The road to happiness is be grateful for what is already around you.

When was the last time you went to work and felt grateful to HAVE a job? Or to have that one coworker who makes you smile and the day a little less long?

When was the last time you were grateful for the food you have to eat? For the taste that you love and all the endless options.

When was the last time you were grateful for having friends, or someone you love, or a family?

For your home? Or your pets? Or for the freedom of being able to simply drive and walk outside freely? To indulge in a blazing sun even on a hot day?

There is a long, illustrious list of things we should be grateful for on a daily basis, yet our sights are often set on the things we want to obtain rather than what we already have. This method of living ultimately leaves us feeling shallow, unsatisfied and disenchanted even though our homes and lives are overflowing.

So how does one get into the habit of gratitude. How do we begin to end this repetitive cycle?

The answer is actually quite simple.

Think about it. Think about the good in your life, rather than the missing.

Focus on the present than obsessing about the what if future.

Start each morning slowly. When you wake up, instead of reaching for your phone, or magazine; simply breath slowly and think about everything in your life that is good. It may be hard at first because, like I said, we are programmed to constantly want more and to focus on more.

Just relax. Take your time. Think about how lucky you are to have a roof over your head. For the new day you’ve been given. If you’re in a relationship, think about how great they are and how lucky you are to have by your side.

It sounds corny, I know, but overtime just doing these few simple steps will grow to something much larger. Instead of waking up in the morning and immediately feeling flustered over the day’s demands, you’ll begin to see things and feel things in a much more positive manner. The habit of seeing the people and things in front you that actually bring true joy to you will eventually become much more visible.

Don’t get discourage on the bad days, and there will most certainly be bad days. Part of life is the struggle, but with proper mental nourishment you can have the skills and energy to push through it. To not let it infect you and pull you down. Just keep practicing. It takes a long time to build a habit, but no time at all to fall out of it.

So let’s start right now. Here and now. What are some things you are grateful for.

For me today, it is the glorious AC….

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