In the last of the seven habits its time to reflect on what there is in our life for which we can feel grateful. It may be as simple as noticing a few moments of sunshine or smelling a rose as you pass it, or feeling a wider sense of gratitude for things in your life that it might be easy to take for granted. As one focuses on gratitude it opens the heart, gives a sense of fulfilment, rather than lack, and helps to direct attention to what we want to cultivate in our life rather than focusing on what we want to push away. As such it encourages a happy, creative and contented heart.
Gratitude is a gentle reminder to ourselves to turn down the voice that worries we don’t have enough, that our life is a failure, that we should be doing better. Our modern world of advertising and consumerism is based on selling the idea that we do not have enough. We are the products of a culture that bases its economic success on citizens who feel they are never good enough, always in need of the latest upgrade, larger car, better wardrobe, new style of haircut! Gratitude is a gentle noticing of what is there right now, of appreciating what we have even if it’s not what we want. Perhaps we want a job with more prestige that pays more money, and a larger house! We have a choice of focusing on the sense of lack, or of appreciating what we have: our job as it is, what that income makes possible for us, the accommodation we have that gives us shelter, a bed, a place to eat, sleep and be with friends however small it may be! Thus gratitude can turn a glass half empty mind into an appreciative glass half full perspective. We can still seek to change and move into new work or find a new home, but from a sense of fulfilment rather than trying to escape a sense of lack. If we feel fulfilled in th present moment then what we move on to will also feel satisfying. If we are moving on motivated by a sense of lack then the next job or home will feel like just a step on an ever upwards journey with no sight of the summit ever coming into view!
One way to connect with gratitude as a regular practice is to have a book that you write down from 1 – 5 things you feel grateful for at the end of the day. Or if you prefer to use your ‘phone there’s an App!
There’s a lovely video about how to establish a gratitude practice here