I must admit; I was one of those people who always look at the glass as half empty rather than half full. Those closest to me often reminded me of the things I’ve been blessed with - a job, health, a roof over my head, to name a few and the fact that I am alive.
They would also remind me of the people who lack clothes, freedom and someone to love them. Some are fleeing war, living in war-torn countries, long for three square meals a day and some walk stretches of miles, scrounging for anything to put in their bellies to keep them alive. Things we sometimes take for granted when our focus is not on gratitude.
Before I gained perspective on the real issues, I would roll my eyes and sulk. ‘What about my problems?’ I would moan. And it wasn’t until I realised that the more I focused on my selfish wants and needs, the more I continued to lack.
Constantly fixating on our frustrations and that which we lack and wish to have only creates a thick fog around us. As a result, we become engulfed by fear that leaves us paralysed, and we fail to take the steps we need to change our lives.
Focus on the right things
Adopting an attitude of gratitude has been a journey for me—a journey of constant growth, finding new meaning and interpretation. When I learned to walk in gratitude, my perspective shifted, and I began to embrace my life in its state and feel more positive about things.
That is not to say that I live in a cocoon of delusion which fails to acknowledge some situations for what they are. Of course, negative emotions are real, and they have their place. But maintaining a grateful mindset means not asking, ‘why me?’, ‘what did I do to deserve this?’, but knowing that just because you do not see the sun in the dark clouds does not mean it did not rise.
It also means that I embrace situations while keeping an open mind and seeing the times of trials as opportunities for growth and a new awakening. And it means learning and discovering ways to turn my lemons into lemonade because I believe everything happens for a reason.
So, I focus on the lessons and the good things that difficult situations tend to mask. Those lovely, little and rare moments that life presents to us.
Better Mental State
I keep a journal to remind myself of all the beautiful moments my human mind may be inclined to forget. Studies have proved that people who express gratitude daily through words, actions and journaling are generally happier and in a better mental state than those who do not.
I have realised that the more time I spend focussing on gratitude, i.e. taking time for silence, communing with nature and offering appreciation for life and the blessings I already have, the better everything feels. I’m engulfed with hope, knowing there is more where that came from.
Gratitude plays a crucial role in digging ourselves out of a deep, dark hole of perpetual dissatisfaction and frustration.
Human beings are meant to grow and evolve; understandably, we will want to expand to achieve more than we already have to fulfil our full potential and reach self-actualisation. Therefore, I feel it is alright to want to do better for ourselves, but it is always healthy to adopt gratitude while working towards it.
Gets rid of toxic emotions
Gratitude opens doors, eliminates undue stress and burnout, and unshackles us from the mental anguish and toxic emotions caused by the drive to push ourselves to the limit, competing against others instead of competing against ourselves. Without gratitude, we are in danger of alienating those around us. For example, how can we embrace our loved ones, see the good in them, and appreciate them, let alone love them, when we don’t feel the same love and appreciation towards ourselves?
A gratitude attitude doesn’t imply turning a blind eye to problems and the areas of our lives that need fixing. It simply means we’ve learnt to embrace the hostile areas while being willing to do what is within our control or power to improve the situation. Also, walking in gratitude means that when we fail, we do not beat ourselves up about it but are thankful for the opportunity to try.
So if you ever feel like something is missing in your life, look around with an open mind, and you will find that you have a lot to be thankful for despite what you think you lack.
Check out my YouTube channel for videos on gratitude, practical tips on how to walk in gratitude and more.