The root of joy is gratefulness.
~ David Steindl-Rast.
An American Catholic Benedictine monk, author, and lecturer.
In the past decade, there have been a huge wave of exciting new discoveries about the brain – its neuroplasticity, the physical and psychological benefits of mindfulness, of resting our busy, busy brains, and of creating a practice of gratitude.
So, just what is Gratitude?
I like the concept of gratitude as a life orientation, offered here: “We suggest that at the dispositional level, gratitude is part of a wider life orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in the world. This life orientation should be distinct from other emotions such as optimism, hope and trust. ….”
Cultivating gratitude as a life orientation
A daily gratitude journal is a start. Thinking appreciative, grateful thoughts is valuable; but writing them takes the practice to a new and deeper level.
Try it. Set aside a pad of paper, a notebook, that this is its sole purpose: your gratitude journal. Just for the next 30 days, every day, write a minimum of 4 things you are grateful for…
…. for the strength of your legs that carry you every single day
…. for the delicious dinner you had
…. for warm showers and running water
…. for your partner who saw how exhausted you were and took care of the dishes
…. for the child who smiled at you earlier that day
…. for the scent of blossoms on the spring air as you walk into the grocery store
…. for your warm and comfortable bed
…. for those around you whom you love.
There is so much in our lives over which we have no control — the weather, how other people think and feel, the things that wear us down. So let us give our focus and attention to where we have agency, in ways that will greatly benefit our well-being, and therefore the well-being of those around us.
Creating a practice of gratitude is one such way.
If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation,
you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude,
a feeling that nurtures the soul
~ Rabbi Harold Kushner