Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
– Meister Eckhart
Have you ever read the 1990’s best-selling book, Simple Abundance; A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, by Sarah Ban Breathnach? If not, I highly recommend it. A good friend gave it to me years ago – and the wisdom within resonated with me so much, it became a bible of sorts.
If you have read it, you may recall that a key principle from the book was the importance of cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.”
– Melody Beattie
“Once we accept that abundance and lack are parallel realities,” writes Ban Breathnach, “and that each day we choose – consciously or unconsciously – which world we will inhabit, a deep inner shift in our reality occurs.”
And so, to help readers get to a place where this deep inner shift can occur, the author came up with a great tool. After the phenomenal success of Simple Abundance, she created The Journal of Gratitude.
Another friend gave that to me!
Although The Journal of Gratitude has a few words of introduction at the beginning as well as inspirational quotes throughout, it’s basically a blank notebook with space for every day of the year to jot down five things one is grateful for – preferably at the end of each day.
“If you give thanks for five gifts every day,” suggests the author, “in two months you will not look at your life in the same way as you might now.”
Why? Because, she explains, by doing so, “You will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.”
Now, this may or not be true – although based on personal experience, it certainly seems that way. But honestly, the older I get, the less concerned I am about the Universe sending me MORE – of anything (except maybe a decent guy and quiet neighbours…hah). Other than that, I’ve got more than enough!
What I do find, now that I am (finally) regularly jotting down all that I’m grateful for, is that I really am blessed beyond belief. And there’s a sense of humility that comes along with that profound feeling of appreciation.
I suspect the good vibes that come from taking a few moments every evening to be consciously aware of – and thankful for – one’s blessings does spill over into the rest of one’s life.
I find myself complaining less and thanking more. Gratitude seems to be helping me put things in perspective. I am focusing less on what is NOT working in my life at any given moment and am instead being thankful for all that is working.
But here’s an interesting observation: although I am dwelling far less on the small but annoying negative aspects of my life, when I do think about them, it is far more solution-based i.e. constructive problem-solving versus dwelling on the negative and getting pissed off and frustrated, over and over again, in some sort of weird feed-back loop that never leads to change!
“Pause for a moment and give thanks. Let your heart awaken to the transforming power of gratefulness.”
– Sarah Ban Breathnach
In other words, making gratitude a regular part of my day – by making the time to actually jot down specifically WHAT I am grateful for and giving thanks – seems to be helping me better address, and hopefully transform, the things I am not…quite so grateful for.
“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of the arts.”
– Henry David Thoreau
Indeed. And cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a really good way to positively affect the quality of the day 🙂
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy – they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
– Marcel Proust
If you’ve ever kept a gratitude journal, I’d love to hear about it.
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Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.