The end of the year is a great time to spend some time writing down the things you feel grateful for in your life. Many women have adopted a regular gratitude practise and research shows that showing gratitude is good for your health and happiness. However, simply writing down the things that are going well in your life might only be scratching the surface. Learn these three distinct levels of gratitude to reap full rewards from your gratitude practise to deepen your experience and growth.
The idea is to learn to appreciate the journey rather than the end goal. When we learn to celebrate the little successes along the way we are able to connect to what really matters and find joy in doing what we are doing everyday. When you get excited about life’s opportunities, every single moment, no matter what the current circumstances are, you attract more good into your life.
Feeling grateful about the good things
Most people who practise gratefulness focus on becoming more aware of the good things in their life and this is of course a great place to start. When we pay attention to the things we are grateful for we shift our perception about our abilities.
Even if you had a tough year you will be able to find little glimpses of joy and light. Focus on the things and moments you have actively pursued, something that is part of your journey.
If you have been worried to share your opinion and ideas in a company meeting but you did it anyway, even if you were nervous and blushing, that is a success!
If you didn’t think you could find the courage to start your own business but you did it, even if you haven’t signed a single client yet, your courage is something you should be grateful for!
If you have been struggling with overachieving and always find yourself busy with too much to do but managed to carve out some space to go for a walk in the forest – you should be grateful for those magical moments!
What was hard but you did it anyway?
What made you feel excited and slightly nervous at the same time but you did it?
Perhaps you received support from an unlikely source?
Perhaps you found more courage within yourself than you thought possible?
What are you really proud of about yourself?
Be grateful for the courage to be you. Appreciate those around you who help you stay authentic and who encourage you to pursue your own dreams.
Being grateful about your struggles and failures
The idea of gratefulness is to appreciate everything in your life, the wholeness of being a human and that includes the ups and the downs, the light and the shadows. When you are feeling stuck or struggling to move forward it may be difficult to see the gift in this kind of thinking, but it's the very act of gratefulness for all aspects of your experience that will help you move forward.
The idea is not to sugar coat your experience. We need to deal with the setbacks and fully feel them. But we also must remember that the very struggles helped us to become who we are today. It is our job then to take those learnings and realise that we can move on and create our future every moment of every day.
“Because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
What was the toughest moment or set back you had to face this year?
What did you learn about it? Did it make you wiser or stronger?
Did you try to get through your obstacles alone or did you reach out and ask for help? Did you welcome support and surround yourself with people you can be grateful for?
Did your set backs reveal 'blindspots' that helped you to raise your awareness and grow as a person?
When one door closes another one opens. Being grateful for the whole journey and all aspects of it helps us to align ourselves with our true purpose and stop wasting time with things that no longer serve us.
Gratefulness as an act of letting go
The fast pace of modern life and our eagerness to chase success means we often move forward too fast failing to appreciate the successes and experiences we have. We get a new job or win an award without celebrating properly the hard work we put into it. Or we end a period in life, such as a marriage or staying with one company for a long time, without stopping to appreciate what those years have given us.
It's so common for people to brush off both successes and failures and rush off to the next thing. This eventually leads to 'lingering'. We don't fully grieve ending of a good (or a bad) thing which means the feelings of sadness and joy are not fully experienced. Instead they get buried somewhere deep in our soul. Past disappointments or triumphs will keep pulling our strings without us knowing.
You are able to release any past 'lingering' emotions simply by doing a gratefulness exercise and writing down what you are thankful for in that particular period in your life, no matter how far back.
Have you appreciated all different periods in your life?
Have you allowed yourself to feel the emotions that got trapped when you moved from one period to the next?
Consider the time when you were really successful in your career. Do you feel bitterness that those days are gone and haven't returned?
Try writing down what you are grateful for for each of the different periods that have passed, whether those periods were 'good' or 'bad'. This way you can release any trapped emotions and move forward.
Try to approach any area in your life where you feel conflict (internal or external). Writing down the good things may reveal what still needs resolving.
Practising gratefulness in its full potential is important so that you can shift your mindsets from fear and lack to excitement and opportunity. When we get excited about life's opportunities we can create the future we so deeply crave and deserve.
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