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Gratitude – What does that mean?

I recently found an illustration of Gratitude that I would like to expand on. It goes like this :

From a Charity perspective, grateful people on average give 20% more to charity. Take Oprah as an example. We all know that one of her philosophies is to practise gratitude every day. Through incorporating this into her life and her very being, she has been able to give so much to charity, probably much more than 20%. And then I hear you say, yes but she can afford it. What can a little person such as myself achieve with my already stretched income? For me, it’s not always about just giving of material things. In fact, getting involved with a charity within your local community could be much more rewarding and you don’t need to do anything except give of your time.

From a Psychological perspective, gratitude is related to age meaning that for every 10 years, gratitude increases your life expectancy by 5%. Now I’m not sure if this is linked to any real research and we should always make sure for ourselves. Be that as it may, if just being grateful for what you have can add some years onto your life, through a sense of being connected to the universal consciousness and a general overall sense of wellbeing, then who are we to question?

From a Community perspective, grateful people will have a stronger bond with the local community. And this makes sense to me, because recognising that you have so much to be grateful for is a precursor to getting involved with your community and sharing the amazing gift of gratitude.

From a Health perspective, grateful people have 10% fewer stress related illnesses, are more physically fit and have blood pressure that is lower by 2%. Once again, not sure about the actual research, but…if we are able to make ourselves healthier just through the act of practising gratitude in our lives, then it’s a no-brainer for me!

From a Work perspective, and I like this one, grateful people’s income is roughly 7% higher. Who wouldn’t want to be earning more? I guess it’s all about what you put out into the world is what you’re going to get back. And so when you are grateful for what you have, and you show it in a beautiful positive light, then that light will shine forth from you and people will pick up on it. You will find your self-esteem increasing and through that, you naturally portray yourself in a positive way and it stands to reason that you’re more likely to be considered for higher paying positions.

From a Relationship perspective, people who practise gratitude in their lives have more satisfying relationships with others and naturally will be better-liked. Try it and see for yourself if it works.

From a Youth perspective, 13% fewer fights and 20% more likely to get A grades. The secret here is to share practising gratitude with your children and let them find out for themselves what the great positive benefits are. They’re very likely to pass this on to their friends as well and in doing so, create an all-round positive experience for their own lives. I like this : grateful teens are 10 times less likely to start smoking. I have no doubt that grateful teens are more likely to see the benefit to creating a healthy lifestyle for themselves and that’s what all parents want for their children.

So apparently overall positive emotions can add up to 7 years to your life. Gosh, we all have so much to do in this lifetime and while we all know where we’re going when we leave this earthly existence, I ask you – what’s the rush? Our experience of our lives should be happy and fulfilling and it’s only we can do this for ourselves.

I would highly recommend starting a gratitude journal and be diligent about your entries. It can be as simple as little A5 black book that you keep in your bag or next to your bed or at your desk – anywhere where you can have easy access and at the same time, have a quiet space. Then, find five things for that day that you are grateful for. It’s a good idea to do it every night, then you have a whole day to focus on. The things that you can be grateful can be as simple as waking up in a warm bed with a roof over your head and having had a great night’s sleep. In fact that can be two separate things. Then, as you go along, pay more attention to your day and you will find yourself recording much more inspired and deeper-meaning things that have happened in your life.

You can get quite creative with this as well depending on how much time you have to spend or perhaps once a week you do this : Place illustrations next to your entries. This can be done through cutting out images from a magazine, downloading images off the Internet, or simply a drawing that you do yourself. What this does, is positively reinforces that particular thing that you are grateful for. Also, we are very visual creatures and we tend to remember things much better when we see a visual representation rather than just reading it – which brings me to a reminder that you should go back over what you have written, at least once a week and choosing how far back to go is entirely up to you. Let’s say what could work is that once a week, you review what you’ve written that week and then once a month, go through the whole month.

You will be so amazed at what comes out of it. What you find. I challenge you all to start doing this right away. With your next shop at Pick and Pay, or Checkers or wherever you shop, remember to stop past the stationery section and include a little book for yourself. If you have the time, make a trip to the CNA or any shop that specialises in stationery and find a book that speaks to you.

I highly recommend that you record everything manually. Typing up a gratitude journal may save time because we can all type fast. However, we tend to type on auto pilot and writing forces us to focus on what we’re doing and what we’re saying and so has a more positive impact on our own psyche as well.

Please do share with me – I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me glynis@spiritconnection.co.za.

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