I have been noticing some people, including myself, who appear to have had some memory lapses regarding gratitude or are finding it tricky to express gratitude! So I thought I could do with a gratitude reminder! Maybe you do too?
I have written many blogs about gratitude and consider it one of the most important foundational practices for happiness, resilience and peace of mind. Gratitude can help us to overcome feelings of depression and sadness. It can also help us find the blessing in a difficult situation and turn a so called 'problem' into an opportunity to learn. I can be grateful for the person who appeared too stressed to say thank you as a reminder of the benefits to all of being grateful!
Many years ago now I was introduced to a morning gratitude practice. It is wonderful way to start each morning and certainly sets a positive mood for the day. When I wake I bring to mind all the wonderful ways others are helping me, including growing my food, driving my tram, serving my coffee and generally making my amazing life possible in so many ways!
I have so much to be grateful for and it is uplifting to journal what I am grateful for each morning. But I don't need to stop there. I can continue to express gratitude throughout my day in all sorts of fun ways - smiles, texts, notes and verbal expressions of thanks. And I can include me too, as we will explore.
It is great to receive thanks from others too. But, as we know sometimes this thanks is not forthcoming, or not in the form we want! We can even be met with hostility for trying to be kind sometimes! I had this happen the other day when I noticed someone had just parked in a 'no standing' zone. I attempted to explain this to them, only to be met with an unfriendly response and no thanks! It was a great reminder that I cannot control receiving thanks for kindness. But, thankfully I can control my response!
I have been reminded that I often expect gratitude from others when I do something kind, like make a meal. As we know expectation is disappointment in training. As Confucius says "Act with kindness but do not expect gratitude" When I expect to be thanked for preparing the meal and I don't receive it, I often become resentful, with the burning smell of martyr lingering in the air! This is certainly not helpful for my peace of mind.
So again, what can I do to let go of resentment and instead be an appreciative, kind, and encouraging friend to myself, both in the moment and for the future?
As we said last week our feelings are often associated with a physical body sensation. When I feel resentment regarding feeling unappreciated I usually feel it as a tightening or uncomfy feeling in my throat.
As we also explored It may also be helpful to bring curiosity to your awareness around thought patterns and behaviours that go with that feeling. My funny mind has a whole martyrdom story!
So instead of that whole untrue story if I am aware of that physical sensation of the tightening jaw, churning stomach or tight throat, and see it as a reminder to do those 3 helpful steps outlined in last weeks blog........
When I can remember to thank myself for the efforts I have made to be of value to others then I don't get disappointed in and resentful of others when they are unable to give it to me! When I can give this thanks to myself I can then have compassion and understanding for them. I don't know why they are not able to be thankful. Maybe they have lots on their mind, maybe they did not like the meal I made, maybe they are not in the habit of being grateful.
I cannot control receiving thanks, but I can control thanking myself for the efforts I make to be that positive force in the world! Kind, encouraging affirmations of gratitude have the power to uplift both ourselves and others! As Pema Chodron says ' What truly heals is gratitude and tenderness'.
So once again dial up your internal kind encouraging friend to give you the gratitude and encouragement needed. We can do this through truthful affirmations, like ' Good on you for taking the time and effort to make a meal so that others can come home and relax and receive a healthy, nutritional meal.'
Other things you may find useful are .........
1. A daily gratitude practice - Wake up grateful and journal what you are grateful for each and every day
2. Journaling the value you do brings to others through what you do (whether tor not they are able to see, acknowledge or express gratitude for it).
For example - Being grateful for the efforts I have made to bring value to others by sitting down this afternoon to write this blog so others may benefit from remembering to practice gratitude to others and themselves. I have thanked myself and valued what I have done so there is no expectations of thanks or resentment needed!
3. As discussed we can give ourselves thanks and love through affirmations. We can also do this in other ways too. This needs to be understood in the wise context of taking care of ourselves so we have something in the tank to give to others. More about this in the upcoming blogs.
BIG THANKS to you all! Have a great fortnight!