Whichever way you look at it and no matter how you express it, one thing is certain: Gratitude matters. Cultivating gratitude is a lot like growing a plant; you must take time to care for it, nourish it, and encourage it in order for it to fill its place in your life and in the world.
Water down what you don’t have.
In today’s commercial environment, it’s easy to want what you don’t have—new cars, new houses, new furniture, more clothes, this toy or that. Give yourself the gift of gratitude instead of something shiny and short-lived. Throw away product catalogs and unplug from advertisements designed to make your life feel less than the blessing that it is. In fact, everytime you receive a piece of junk mail, take a moment to say to yourself, “I have everything I need. I am grateful for what I have.”
Nurture kindness and a humble heart.
As important as your life is, remember that it contains no more value than the person sitting next to you or the person on the television. Recognize your humanity through its humility, and acknowledge the one person you almost always fail to show gratitude for: yourself. Take a moment and recognize the health of your body, the love and forgiveness you give yourself, the dedication to your quest for gratefulness, and the tenderness of your spirit. Kindness to others is only truly possible when you bestow it upon yourself, too.
Bring Blessings into the Light.
That is to say, remember them. Make a practice each and every day to remember the people in your life who have shared a kindness, shared your journey, and shared a Burdon. Find a Reminder, whether it’s when you see a tree or look up at the sky, and take a moment each time your Reminder comes into view to dedicate a small thank you. It will help keep gratitude front-of-mind, and bring into the sunshine everything that has warmed your heart. The warmer your heart, the more likely you are to share your gifts with others, and that’s really the whole point.
Just as crowded plants can’t grow into their full potential, gratitude cannot be squished into existence. It requires time and mindfulness; time, so that it can be prioritized, and mindfulness, so that it can be maximized. Some people do this through meditation. Others do it by writing in a gratitude journal. And some people use this time to communicate to others how much their lives matter, be it through a simple text message or a thoughtful note in their mailbox.
Brace against wind and storm.
The more time and effort you take to practice and demonstrate gratefulness, the stronger your reserves will be when life inevitably throws you a curve ball. Your effort toward cultivating positive self and global awareness will bolster you through stress, sickness, loss, and grief simply because you have the tools to never lose sight of what is really important.