We are often told to always be grateful and that we must practice the art of gratitude. When we were young, we are often ask, “What are the magic words?” after we are handed out something and our little young selves would readily reply, “Thank you!” But I came to realised now that I am older the words “Thank you” are indeed magical. That act of gratefulness was subtly engrained in us when we were young but we never understand how it is to be truly grateful.
I remember in my 2nd year high school Values Class, our teacher who is a nun, taught us the importance of Gratitude. She shared a story of a lady who practice it daily. The lady would thank God from the minute she woke up, from the beauty of the sun, the little blessings that she have in her life (that is often taken for granted by most people) up to the comforts of having a bed to sleep as the day closes. I was inspired by the story that I tried to be more grateful with all the little things that God has blessed me and appreciate everything that has been given to me. I sometimes would create a Gratefulness List after every month or sometimes I would enumerate the 3-5 things that I am grateful for that day. But of course from time to time, I would often forget practicing it and discontentment would set in.
But recently, during the last stages of my pregnancy and after I have given birth to Zeke, I started thinking about God’s blessings that he has generously bestowed upon my life. I felt like a spoiled horrible daughter who was showered with so much gifts by her loving forgiving Father. I felt ashamed and undeserving of all His love and generosity. So I started thanking God as much as I can. I started appreciating all of his blessings in my life. From the blessing of family, my wonderful healthy & loving kids, the opportunity to experience living in Singapore, the gift of employment, genuine & supportive friends, the wellness of my family back home, the beautiful scenery of Singapore, being able to blog & to earn from it and all the many little wonderful gifts God has given me. I realised I was given so much blessing that I have no right to complain about little discomforts like back pain from carrying heavy bags with breastmilk pumping paraphernalia, long tiring walks to & fro work,unruly kids, and all the grumbles that didn’t fit in my fairy tale concept of what life should be. Humans are predisposed to have a bottomless desires so satisfaction & contentment are hard to chase.
So How Can We Practice Gratitude in Our Daily Lives?
Gratitude is not merely saying “Thank You!”. The spirit of gratefulness must go beyond the act of spitting out words that resembles being thankful. To be truly grateful, it must be part of you and your being would reflect the positive aura of gratitude.
First, we must Stop Complaining. Complaining goes against the principle of gratitude. How can you feel grateful if your brain and mouth are full of complains, from how hot the weather is, to not having enough money, to be unfortunate that you have insensitive workmates or how crowded the public transportation is and the list goes on. When we do that we encourage the bad vibe of discontentment. This would result in misery and not reap the benefits of gratitude.
Together with not complaining, we should also Look at the Good Side of Everything. Remember that lesson on seeing the glass half full and seeing the glass half empty. A thirsty person who is ungrateful and was given a glass of water would say, ” I am so damn thirsty, why would you just give me so little water to drink!” A thirsty person who practice gratitude would say to the person who gave him water, “Wow! I needed this so badly. I love that it is super chilled. ” followed by a sincere “Thank you!” See the difference? Both were given the same amount of water but their reactions differ. The grateful one even appreciated that he was given a cold drink. I assumed the ungrateful one wouldn’t even noticed the water handed to him was chilled.
Grateful people often Smile. Grateful people are happy people because they feel blessed. They don’t see nor acknowledged the lack but they focused on the abundance. Because of their radiant glow from being grateful, they attract positivity and abundance in their lives. Hence, there will be more thanksgiving which would result to more abundance. What a wonderful cycle to be in, right?Who wouldn’t like to smile with that? Some people would call them lucky. But in reality, it is just due to the simple act of gratitude.
Another habit that grateful people have is Acknowledging the Blessings or Creating a Gratefulness List. I try my best to practice this but truly grateful people have this habit down pat. Some, at the end of the day, would have a Prayer of Thanksgiving to God for all the blessings they received throughout the day. They would enumerate the blessings they have received. Some do it in the morning upon waking where they say all the things they are grateful for as they start their day. Some like me who likes making lists, would write down the things we are grateful for, either by the end of the day, start of the morning or after every end of the week or after every end of the month.
Lastly, because you are grateful for having so much (when in fact for an ungrateful person, they think you are crazy for thinking you have so much), you have this urge to Give Back. People who practice gratitude would have this nagging urge to give back because they feel they need to share it. So monetary-wise and depending on your faith, you can practice tithing. Based in the bible, it is the practice of giving 10% of your earnings to God. And often when you tithe, blessings come back ten-folds. You can donate it in a religious sect or a charity organisation of your choice. You can also give extra money to your family members who are not financially stable or your elderly parents who does not have any source of income. But make sure that this generosity should not encourage laziness or complacency among family members and relatives that are healthy, young and capable to find a source of income for themselves. You can also sponsor underprivileged children or persons that may need your help in their education, necessities, etc.
The act of giving back doesn’t only mean giving money. You can give back by volunteering your time and skills to good causes and charitable events. You can tutor kids who aren’t able to go to school. Offering your help in medical missions would be awesome way of giving back. You can assess what your talents are. Say you are a good singer, join the church choir. Say you are a good cook, you can look for feeding programs where you can cook for the poor. Giving back can be as easy as offering help to a frail old lady to carry her heavy grocery bags as you were both going up the bus or offering your seat to an elderly man in the train.
Be a blessing to others and in turn, blessings will be given to you unexpectedly. Good begets good. Positivity begets positivity. It is how it works. I realised if I am more thankful with the things that I have, more wonderful things come. When I complain more, allowing discontentment & negativity to set in and operating in a sense of lack, blessings & opportunities are taken away.
So, let us all try to practice the art of gratitude. Let us be thankful that we are given a life to live, a world as our playground, a variety of people that we can choose to be our playmates in this funny world and resources to enjoy. To those who read this article, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I feel blessed that I get to share this realisation with you.