Dr. Sharman’s Musings

Attitude of Gratitude

November is known as a time when many focus on Thanksgiving and gratitude.  But perhaps being grateful every day of the year can serve a greater purpose and have a profound impact on your life?

Sunsets..always grateful for these
Sunsets..always grateful for these

Nearly 800 years ago, the great poet Rumi wrote the words “Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.”  Gratitude is a fundamental concept in almost all ancient and modern spiritual teachings.  It is the foundation of most positive psychology and personal growth movements.

I find it interesting that Rumi chose the word “feed” to say that gratitude can affect every corner of your life.  When something nourishes you, it is an essential aspect of growth, wellbeing and vitality.  Just as your body needs nutrients from food, every aspect of your life (and every cell of your body) can be nourished by gratitude.

But why is gratitude such an important feeling?  I believe it is because gratitude fosters wellbeing, inner peace and contentment.  We can say that our thoughts create our feelings but we could also say that feelings can influence the language we use in our head to formulate our thoughts.  What we say to ourselves every day impacts how we view life and our environment.

By connecting with gratitude, suddenly our view of life, circumstances, relationships and the world has a more positive tone.

 

This leads to more positive feelings.  Those feelings influence our choices.  Making more positive choices leads to more positive outcomes.  So in theory, gratitude can actually affect outcomes in your life, relationships, job and world.

So how can you cultivate gratitude in your life?

  • Keep a gratitude journal.  Simply write down daily the things for which you are grateful.   Taking the time to connect with thoughts and feelings associated with gratitude will actually increase the gratitude within you.
  • Pause at least once during the day and do a mini meditation.  Take some long deep breaths visualizing the breaths going right into your heart.  Imagine that you are actually breathing gratitude into your heart but at the same time allow the breath control to come from deep down in the diaphragm/belly.
  • Be grateful for challenges rather than ruminating on past regrets or mistakes
  • Write a letter of gratitude telling someone how much you appreciate them.  You could even write a letter that you don’t send to someone who has contributed to a challenge in your life and examine ways in which they have been a teacher for you by bringing these lessons into your awareness.
  • Finally, one way to easily connect with a feeling of gratitude is to just look around you.  November is a beautiful time to just take in the beautiful colors of fall and be grateful that your eyes have the opportunity to see them.

May you be grateful and joyful during this beautiful life!  The gallery below shows just a few of the many things I am grateful for.

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