Most people face adversity in their lives at some time or another but how we react or respond to it is what determines the quality of our daily joy.
Dr Robert Emmons, a teaching professor and research scientist at the University of California at Davis and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology has recently released a book called How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. He spent eight years researching the benefits and effect of gratitude in our lives – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Just like playing tennis, or learning to read, gratitude can be cultivated. Gratitude is an act of humility which, when practised, brings much into our lives.
Step Three of Ridiculously Simple Steps To Transform Your Health (and Life) concerns these every day acts of love and gratitude. The world renowned Dr Masaru Emoto has conducted research on the effect of words (and music) on water molecules. You may think this has nothing to do with love and gratitude but our bodies are approximately two thirds water and so is our planet and his research has uncovered the effect that words and music have on our health since we are mostly made up of molecules of water! He discovered that different shapes of crystals were formed in response to the vibration of different words. Love and Gratitude have a particularly exquisite crystal shape.
In ages past, people spent time giving thanks for their existence and for their daily bread and as this tradition has fallen away, so has the joy that comes with it.
One Ridiculously Simple Step that we can take to rekindle that joy is by reintroducing the idea of ritual thankfulness and by beginning a gratitude journal (now). Taking the time every day at a set time to focus on what we are grateful for. This may be something as small as being able to write in our gratitude journal, or having the eyes to see that gratitude journal, or the resources to buy the journal in the first place. When we begin to focus on what we can be grateful for we wouldn’t have enough hours in the day or pages in a book to write it all!
Spending time giving thanks for our lives, both the good and the not so good things, brings back our joy. Many may have heard this little story but I repeat it here as it was a “life saver” during a particularly challenging time in life.
Dinner time with five children!! Five enthusiastic, healthy, vital, busy children (four of which are boys) and one “must be heard” daughter. Mealtimes were beginning to become a free for all and everyone speaking at once and no-one was being heard. To create some sort of mealtime routine and structure we devised a plan where each child would speak and be listened to by everyone else. To ensure that the tone of the meal was positive, each child had the opportunity to talk and be heard but the topic had to be something they were grateful for that day and why, and if they wanted to add anything positive to it they could and we all listened while they spoke, thus they learned the joy of gratitude at an early age (quite by accident!!) which I am sure has helped them through many of life’s rough patches and has helped to kindle their inner light when things seemed dark.
The simple act of thinking about who and/or what we are grateful for can make such a big difference in our lives. Little thing – big outcome.
Naturally it is much easier to be grateful for things we experience as positive, not so easy to have gratitude for what we perceive to be negative experiences, however this is where a little mindfulness can turn our emotions around.
Had an accident?? We can be grateful we are alive!!
Lost a favourite item?? We can be grateful we have things to lose!!
Not the meal you wanted?? We can be grateful we have food to eat!!
Gratitude turns bad things into good, and helps to remind us of what really is important.
Although I may not be suitably qualified to write an article about gratitude or even talk about it to others, I am persuaded by the ancient Chinese Proverb which says that “when we know something we have a responsibility to pass it on” therefore I pass on my Ridiculously Simple Steps To Transform Your Health (and Life) which will hopefully help you begin your gratitude journal and experience the positive force of gratitude in every day living.