adventures in making stuff with Daniel Higginbotham

Daily Gratitude

16 October 2012

Around the beginning of the year I read about the benefits of cultivating a daily practice of gratitude. Making a point of being grateful trains you to think more positively and just makes you feel better.

I've personally found it to be a rewarding, easy practice. Every morning I think about three things that I'm grateful for as soon as I wake up, and it's a fantastic way to start the day. And over the past six months, I've found myself feeling grateful for my life much more often.

The fact is, I have a great life. I do what I love, I'm with the woman I love, and I'm financially secure. Now I appreciate my great situation much more than I did six months ago.

And if there's something in my life I want to change, practicing gratitude has helped to give me the energy to change it. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and anxious, I feel like I ultimately have nothing to worry about.

The best part about it is that it's freaking easy and only takes a few minutes, but the benefits are huge and accumulate over time. It's such a powerful practice that I truly think everyone should try it. Here are a couple suggestions for getting started:

What you don't lack

It's easy to take our everyday lives for granted. If you have a toothache, you are grateful when it's gone. But you quickly adjust to your new situation and forget that your tooth is better.

But when you look closely, you can see that our everyday lives are full of small miracles like these. Do you have food? Do you have your vision? Your hearing? None of these are guaranteed to anyone.

As Thich Nhat Hanh put it:

For me, to be alive is a miracle. It is the greatest of all miracles. To feel that you are alive and are breathing in is to perform a miracle - one that you can perform at any time.

Or think about this. There's a condition called "alien hand syndrome" where those who suffer from it can't control one of their hands. They try to button up their shirt with one hand, and the other hand unbuttons it. They move in to hug a loved one, only to have the alien hand punch the person. Not having alien hand syndrome is something to be grateful for.

Your past

Is there anyone in your past that helped you when you needed it?

Did you have good friends? A family that loved you?

Even if you are feeling a lack in your life now, you can be grateful for what you've had in the past. Even if it's difficult, trying feeling grateful for people or events in your past.

These two sources - your past and what you don't lack - can be very fruitful sources of gratefulness.