Happy World Gratitude Day!
It has the power to make us feel greater happiness, to see the world in a more interconnected way and to create helpful societies – how do we get on this gratitude train? Local meditation teacher Tatjana Lucia chatted to Woman & Home about how to practice gratitude in our everyday life. She advises to start with these Three Steps of Gratitude:
Gratitude is about holding on to moments and really taking them in. To practice gratitude is to slow down time so life doesn’t go by in a blur as it so often does. This is the concept of savouring and it’s important when practicing gratitude and to feeling grateful. It’s like when you have an incredible bite of chocolate cake and you chew slowly to make it last forever! When we experience a moment of natural gratitude (that is one which comes unprompted) Tatjana urges us to pause and “absorb that feeling of deep, heart-centred gratitude. Soak it up. Savour each and every blessing in the moment it is unfolding.” As a tool to stay in the present, taking each minute without judgement or worry for what lies behind or ahead, this is similar to practicing mindfulness.
Tatjana suggests the following exercise in learning to savour:
Begin by closing your eyes and thinking of a few things that have made you feel truly grateful, that “deep heart-centred gratitude”. Start small, whatever is manageable, and perhaps with moments that have happened in the past, ones you can easily recognise as moments of gratitude. As you build this every day routine you will be able to think of new, recent moments of gratitude. “Picture these things in your mind,” instructs Tatjana, “and sit with that feeling of gratitude in your body.” With the same thought as psychiatrists who believe that adjusting our behaviour can adjust how we think, practicing Tatjana’s meditative exercise every day “will teach your brain to be more naturally grateful.”
“Gratitude does not have to be saved for the ‘big’ things in life,” warns Tatjana. “The habit of being grateful starts with appreciating every good thing in life and recognising that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for.” This
inherent in the story of A.J. Jacobs and his journey to practice gratitude.
A few years ago, American author A.J. Jacobs, set about thanking all those involved in making his morning cup of coffee. It became a task of thanking thousands of people, across all walks of life from all corners of the globe, over a series of months. What Jacobs discovered was that his simple morning cup of coffee would not be possible if it were not for thousands of people. He started with the barista and owner of his favourite coffee shop, and the trucker who delivered the beans. But of course the trucker couldn’t do his job if it wasn’t for the roads in place. And so this practice of gratitude went on and on. Although it was a small pleasure in A.J’s life he discovered that it took thousands of people to make it happen. Suddenly that small cup of coffee didn’t feel so small!
Often because things or people form part of our every day landscape they become “small” and unnoticeable. We forget the role they play in our lives. Make sure to “hone into the beauty of the small things” as Tatjana puts it.
When we express our gratitude we allow it to grow. Not only will your own experience of gratitude be enhanced but in expressing gratitude you pass it on by sharing it with someone else. Simple phrases Tatjana suggests are “It was really kind of you to…” or “It really helped me out when you…” but even a small “thank you” goes a long way. Tatjana also suggests paying it forward with random acts of kindness (like doing the dishes, even if its not your turn) and making sure you let the people in your life know the impact they have made. “Be heartfelt and honest in expressing your feelings,” says Tatjana, “we can all be saying “thank you” and “I love you” more than we do.”