COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
It’s better than counting your troubles!
We don’t have to literally keep a score card, although a Gratitude Journal is certainly one popular way to get into the habit of looking for the things in our lives that we are grateful for.
Studies are showing that having an outlook of gratitude has emotional and interpersonal benefits. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology co-authored by Robert Emmons confirmed that ‘counting blessings heightens wellbeing’.
Having a thankful appreciation and acknowledging things that come into our lives is an act of graciousness. Being grateful is a virtue.
A real, heartfelt “Thank you” can go a long way. The impact of your gratefulness towards someone who serves you or works with you or shows you their love should not be underestimated.
In the practice of Yoga we have a simple Eight Limb (Ashtanga) Path to follow. One of the Limbs gives us guidelines for living well with others (Yamas). Aparigraha – is the Yama that speaks to us to have gratitude for that which we already have. It translates as non-grasping or non-greed and reminds us to ‘live simply so that others may simply live’, as my teacher, John Ogilvie of Byron Yoga, is fond of saying.
We can ask ourselves “Do I really need this?” If not, let it go.
When we appreciate the tangible and intangible things in life we are practicing gratitude and the consistent practice of gratitude has benefits, such as; stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, more joy, optimism and happiness, and a feeling of greater connection. In short, according to Brene Brown, gratitude leads to more joy; read this!
But…for many of us our default setting is worry, stress or even over-achieving and accumulating ‘things’ in order to try to feel better. So, how do we switch modes and get an attitude of gratitude…we practice!
We decide that it is a worthwhile thing to do and we commit to doing so. Robert Emmons gives us 10 really good tips for cultivating gratitude; 10 tips!
At the end of each Yoga Asana (posture) practice and Meditation I like to spend a few moments with my hands in the prayer position and thinking on something for which I am grateful.
And…I am grateful for being grateful.
I am also very grateful for my Grand-dad, Arthur, who used to come and sit next to me and say “Now, tell me all your troubles”. It is said that a problem shared is a problem halved. Lead researcher Professor Sarah Townsend, from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, has found in a study that sharing a problem with someone in the same situation can assist with easing stress. So, find someone who will listen when you need to share, then move forward and be grateful. Don’t wallow in your troubles…do swim in a sea of gratitude!