2020-02-25

Practising gratitude

I’m yet to figure out a way of meditating and it’s pretty far down on my list of priorities. I struggle sitting still and simply observe my thoughts while feeling sensations in my body. It’s hard. There’s one thing I’m exceptionally good at that sort of falls in the same realm, and it’s practising gratitude. I haven’t always been good at this. As a child, I was obsessed with what I didn’t have. There were many things. Love, compassion, stability. But those things are difficult for a child to pinpoint and grasp. Instead, I saw things that are much easier for a child to see, that there was little money, that most of my clothes came from thrift shops (this was way before it was cool), that we couldn’t afford me doing any kind of sports, and so on. Money always seemed to be an issue. As a result, I was very young when I started dreaming of the life I would build myself with the help of money. I got my first job when I was 13, earning £3/hour, and I haven’t stopped working since. And in the process, I’ve somehow managed to build myself a much nicer life than I ever could’ve imagined.

I think about this every single day. The journey from living a life of scarcity to one of abundance. I’m grateful for so many things today, and so many seemingly small things. I look into our fridge and find it amazing that we can always keep it well-stocked. I love the sensation of lifting heavy weights at the gym and I’m so grateful that I have a strong and able body. I’m grateful for having a job where I’m constantly pushed way beyond my fairly big comfort zone. I’m grateful for my bike and for living in a city where I don’t need a car to get around. I’m grateful for the sea, and more than anything, I’m grateful for being able to feel gratitude. It is exceptionally difficult to feel gratitude about the small things in life when you worry about the big things, like having enough money to get by, or facing social exclusion.

Practising gratitude is a big part of my life. Science (yes) shows that gratitude works. Personally, I almost think of it as praying, and in a way, it sort of is. Over the next six weeks I’m taking my gratitude prayers to the next level. A friend of mine has set up a WhatsApp chat group where four of us will list 1-3 things we’re grateful for every day through what is called ”micro gratitudes”. Micro gratitudes are meant to be very precise, much, much more precise than ”I’m grateful for having a strong and able body”, and for maximum effect, you should avoid repetition. In case this sounds interesting, you can read more about it here.

On my gratitude list today: I had my second semla in two days and instead of thinking that ”I probably shouldn’t have two semlas in two days” I thought ”how amazing that I now no longer think that I shouldn’t have two semlas in two days!”. I’ve finally managed to grow the self-respect needed to not bash myself for having two semlas in two days. Wow. What a treat (pun intended).

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