Feeling thankful is a very potent emotional state to be in.
The gurus and coaches and inspirers around the world inevitably talk about the power of gratitude, of appreciation, of being thankful. It’s so simple but, like virtually everything humanity touches, we have complicated the issue.
So let’s break it down.
What is this sense of thankfulness?
Thing about when you received something special. It could have come to you from someone special or from a complete stranger. For example, you may have dropped your purse and a kind stranger goes out of their way to return it. Feel the gratitude you would have for this person and their kind act.
This is the essence of the feeling we call appreciation. Call up personal memories that remind you what being thankful feels like and bask in the feeling for as long as you want.
It’s a tad difficult to describe because there aren’t many words that match this feeling. Which is a good thing on the one hand, because it means we haven’t cluttered up the feeling with too many words. The feeling of appreciation is still mostly clear and accessible to most.
Emotions like love and peace and happiness have become very diluted over time such that when I say “feel love”, seventeen different readers will reach for seventeen different emotional points.
Appreciation, however, is mostly a standard feeling. You know how you feel when you’re grateful to somebody or grateful for something meaningful. I would like to say that at your most clear feeling of appreciation, you are also feeling love and peace and a sense of happiness. But if I asked you to feel any of those latter emotions individually, the chances are it will fall short of the intensity that you feel simply from the trigger word, “appreciate”.
Take it up a notch
So you can feel thankful on demand, and you know how good it feels when you’re thankful to and for others. Now focus on everything around your immediate vicinity that you’re thankful for.
It doesn’t have to be big. In fact, the simpler and smaller, the better. You might find yourself thankful for the ability to see and read these words. You may be thankful for the screen you’re using to access this article. You may be thankful for your health, and mobility, or the technology that allows us to interact, or the seat that holds your bum while you surf the Internet.
Once you’re on a roll, it’s difficult not to find things to appreciate.
Appreciate the clothes you’re wearing, the roof over your head, the people in your life, the opportunities, your car, your furniture, your relationships, your work. Appreciate the things you have that make a difference in your life.
Now pay attention to your focus. Are you looking at things like, say, your car and thinking, “I’m not thankful for this thing. It’s a piece of crap!”
If that’s the case, let’s do a little refocusing exercise.
Tweak that focus
When you compare the whole of the car you currently drive with the car you might be wanting to drive, it will be hard to find that feeling of appreciation. Appreciation is lost when we make comparisons. But it’s difficult to not compare, isn’t it?
So let’s rather try to soften the focus. Instead of looking at what your car represents in your list of everything you don’t want, look for what it gives you that you do want.
I mean, if your car really isn’t of value to you, why do you have it? Really think about that. If there is nothing to appreciate about your car, why would you waste any more of your energy and money on it. Let it go.
And if you have a bunch of reasons for why you can’t just let it go, I would suggest that you use those same reasons to be thankful for your vehicle.
It’s the little things
Your vehicle represents mobility and a greater level of freedom than if you didn’t have it. If those are the only benefits that it offers, that’s enough.
Make a habit of finding the smallest reasons to feel appreciative of your moments. Little things like “my shoes are so comfortable” or “I really appreciate my hands” or “this coffee is perfect”.
Choosing to find and focus on these seemingly trivial nuances trains your mind to find more reasons to be thankful. With only a few days of regular practice, you will find yourself automatically seeking out the blessings around you. And as the days move on, you will find your mind seeking out more, perceivably bigger reasons to invoke that sense of gratitude. And the more you feel thankful, every day you will feel in a stronger way.
Okay, now what?
I would like to say what more do you need? You’ve just perfected a trick to feel good on a regular basis! Something almost 99% of the human populace struggle with. And you want more?!?!
Of course you do, you’re human and it is our nature to expand and crave more. We wouldn’t grow very much without this desire built in.
So let’s look at this from a pragmatic physical perspective.
The happier and more at ease you are, the more able you are to make better decisions for yourself, and the better you flow with your day. You don’t need me to tell you that happier people enjoy life more. Or maybe they are happier because they enjoy life more. It doesn’t matter. One feeds the other.
By tapping into a more consistent feeling of appreciation, you’re also allowing yourself to feel happier and at peace more of the time. Appreciation is the gateway to increased happiness and love.
Also, the more you actively practice being thankful, you will realise that you’re less in your head, and less foggy, and more aware. By training your mind to seek out the positives and value in your surroundings, you are also training yourself to notice the opportunities and blessings that you’ve been missing out on before now, not because they haven’t been there all this time but because they’re hard to spot by people who are wallowing in unawareness and ingratitude.
Appreciation is the magic trick that opens up paths for you by clearing your own vision and ability to perceive more of the blessings in your immediate world, as well as drawing in more people and situations. People want to work with appreciative people. Situations are more easily tended to when you are focused on the positives and the solutions more so than the problems.
It’s a simple tweak in the way you perceive the world but it makes all the difference.
You’ve heard it many times because humanity has been saying it for millennia: cultivating an attitude of gratitude is one of the most potent habits. There are thousands of inspiring quotations about thankfulness from successful people living today and those who’ve left their wisdoms. Maybe pay attention to these people. Maybe pay attention to this article. Maybe just pay attention to how you feel when you regularly practice being grateful. Just pay attention to what works and run with that. Thank you.