This month I want to explore the meaning of gratitude and it’s not just about saying thank you. I’ve also included some tips on how you can practice gratitude on a daily basis.
Gratitude is an emotion and a way of life, not just a thankless word.
Up until recently, if someone had asked me what the meaning of gratitude is, I would have told them that it means to be grateful. I would also have rolled my eyes thinking that the question was silly.
The meaning of gratitude
The meaning of gratitude is now a way of life for me and hopefully, I will be able to explain from a personal perspective why this is so.
Gratitude is an emotion and a way of life, not just a thankless wordAmanda Norman
If we lose control of ourselves to the daily stresses and tensions, we will lose focus. As a consequence, our mental health can suffer. I am living proof of this with my diagnosis of General Anxiety Disorder last year!
Hmm just a thought! I am thinking right now that I hate labelling myself. I am not GENERAL ANXIETY DISORDER, I am me!
No longer am I suffering because I’m managing myself, which is thanks to practicing the art of gratitude and mindfulness.
I’m no longer on permanent auto-pilot and missing out on the beauty of life. I’m grateful for seeing, and experiencing things in my life that I once took for granted. Let me explain further using photography as my example.
At one time, I didn’t even notice or feel the warm glow on my face from the sun while outside.
I’m a keen photographer who pays attention to how light falls and creates shadows. However, it took a wonderful tutor from Warrington, Nicky Price to show me how I was practicing mindfulness when taking photographs. Mindfulness and gratitude compliment each other very well.
In the moment of creating my art, I’m practicing mindfulness. My head isn’t in the clouds worrying about my future or my past. I’m fully in the moment using my senses. In fact, my photography is always a wonderful break from the stresses of life, and anxiety!
When I’m being creative, I’m in my zone of peace and happiness. No worry, no stress, I’m 100% relaxing my mind. I’m also practicing the art of mindfulness. When I reflect on how I feel, I’m grateful!
For my style of photography, I rely on the sun.
Being mindful of my feelings
The play of light and the eerie dark shadows it creates makes my photography stand out. I’m 100% in the present moment using my senses of sight, touch, and sound when I’m being creative. The sun lights up the beautiful colours of nature surrounding me, making them pop against a dark background. In fact, nature is stunning when we pay attention to it! It makes me feel more positive and I’m grateful to recognise how I’m feeling.
When the sun isn’t shining, sometimes our motivation is numbed, especially in the morning don’t you think?
If there’s no sunshine, my photography suffers. Therefore, I’m always grateful for the presence of the sun. Even during rain, I’m grateful for the break from too much heat. The sun fires my creativity! The sun is a presence that fires me up with lovely positive feelings that I’m so grateful for.
Understanding the meaning of gratitude
In my early days of practicing gratitude, I was simply looking for things to be grateful for, so that I could write in my journal. I didn’t at first, understand the concept well enough to truly benefit from it. Today, practicing gratitude has become a way of life for me.
I fully understand now that it’s about recognising and feeling those good moments and cherishing them. I’m naturally thankful for them and the love that it brings me. The more you practice gratitude, the more you notice and the more natural it becomes. Being mindful will help you see those moments to be grateful for.
Benefits of practicing gratitude
Practicing gratitude on a regular basis benefits not just your mental health, but your relationship with yourself, family and friends. In addition, you will be a lot more emotionally balanced, because you will have an appreciation for life. You will be full of gratitude for the happiness and joy of life you experience.
Don’t waste your time being emotive over the past or fearing the future, live for today, and be happy!
Daily gratitude journal
Every morning I write in my journal the answers to the following questions: –
- What put a smile on my face in the last 24 hours?
- What one word can I use to describe the emotion I felt?
- Where in my body did I feel this most?
Every time I reflect on what put a smile on my face, I feel the gratitude in my body.
Doing it in the morning puts me in a positive frame of mind for the day ahead. Furthermore, when you’re feeling good, you attract good things into your life. Yes, I’m talking about practicing the Law of Attraction. My daily gratitude journal has many benefits.
Each day you complete the above, you are nurturing your soul with positive feelings. In other words, you’re giving yourself love.
Finally, by writing daily, you are resetting your mind to look at the best case scenario, not the worst! You’re focusing on the beauty of life around you. You’re raising your vibration and you’re practicing gratitude.