Gratitude: A Perpetual State of Thankfulness
A Grateful Heart is a Blessed Heart
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Count your blessings. This saying has been repeated to the point that it has become a cliche. In reality, the phrase "count your blessings" is valuable advice because when we put this saying into practice, we are taking the first step to living a life of gratitude.
In our hurry to live life to the fullest, we have forgotten to say "thank you." When we forget to be grateful for all of life's little miracles, we are teetering on the edge of an abyss of pessimism and negativity. When we stop remembering that we are blessed with so many good things, we begin to dwell on the things that we do not have. Dwelling in darkness only leads to bitterness and regret: two extremely unhealthy emotions.
Expressing gratitude is a natural act. Did you know that it takes less energy to be grateful and it takes more energy to be negative? The truth is that when we are negative, we are exerting energy that could be used in a more positive way. Therefore, positive energy creates more positive energy and negative energy only creates more negative energy. Why waste valuable time and effort on destructive behavior when you could be doing something miraculous?
The road to perpetual thankfulness begins with just one "thank you." We can start our journey by being thankful for the morning sunlight; the soft, gentle summer rain, or our beds at the end of a long day. If we have had an unusually stressful day at work, we can be thankful for having a job in an unstable economy. Part of reward that comes from the practice of gratitude is the fact that we learn to be satisfied with what we have been given. When we reach this point, we have taken the next step on the journey to a more grateful life as we begin to realize that our basic needs are being met, and we are happy with the present moment.
Our present state may not be our ideal state; but, if we can find one tiny thing and express gratitude for that small gift, we get a shimmer that becomes our light at the end of the tunnel. To remain healthy, we must learn to let go of the desires to obtain things that may not be obtainable at this very moment. Keep in mind, however, that we are not saying that these goals will never be reached. Instead, we are saying that the goals are not part of who we are "right now."
Learning to say "thank you" for small blessings and being content in the present moment are two important steps to grateful living. The third step is to open your heart to the possibility of blessings in all shapes and forms. Sometimes we receive blessings in strange packages. All blessings are not wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a bright, red ribbon. Blessings may arrive in the form of disappointment. We may not receive the promotion that we wanted or we may find out that our "dream" job is not all that we thought it would be. Life is full of disappointment. We may not have control over life's disappointments, but we can control how we react. It is at this time that we must force ourselves to look for the positive. Eventually, we will realize that there was a reason why things occurred.
In order to live a life of gratitude, we must learn to let go of some negative habits that we may have accumulated over the years. As we take those first initial steps, we will begin to see the effects of gratitude on our overall state of being. We learn that a grateful heart is indeed a blessed heart.