I don’t remember where I heard this mantra but it stuck in my head:
No judgement, just gratitude.
For the past four years, I’ve made it a point to spend seven minutes morning and night to reflect on all the things (and there are many) I have to feel grateful about.
This habit started when my grandma died. My grandma always smiled despite loosing her husband, living alone, and not being in the best health. She was a breast cancer survivor and also suffered from back pain that reduced her mobility. But she was one of the most positive people ever.
One day I asked my mom why Grandma was always so happy when I personally thought she should have been sad. “Ask her.” my mom replied. So I did and her reply is the reason I started my fifteen minute per day gratitude habit.
Every Blessing Counts
At first she laughed. Then she shook her head and told me this: “I am happy because my entire life was blessed. I lost my mother so young when I was only 3 but God brought our nanny to live with us and she was the kindest, most loving person one could have ever sent to raise me and my siblings. Then I grew into a young woman and met your grandfather, who was the handsomest man on the planet, my soul mate, and best friend. We were blessed with two healthy children who turned out well and gave us you lovely grandchildren. Throughout my life, we were never rich but never hungry or wanting for anything either. We had many great friends and I have endless wonderful memories I cherish and recall often (thank goodness my memory still works).” That was my grandmother, always adding some humor to everything.
A Powerful Daily Ritual
Her story warmed my heart but it wasn’t until she showed me a notebook that I started to believe she was onto something big. She gestured for me to open her desk drawer and inside I found a blue notebook. She told me to read and I saw every single day she wrote “Today I am blessed because..”. She then told me that for a couple of minutes first thing upon waking and last thing before bed she would think of and write down something she felt grateful for. And she’s done it her entire adult life. Since she was quite religious, she tied it into her practice of faith and daily prayer.
The True Secret to Happiness
I’d often heard about having a positive attitude but it wasn’t until this talk with my grandmother that it stuck. I saw how cheerful she always was and knew she had uncovered a powerful tool to master one’s mood. Not only that but also to drive compassion and empathy. My grandmother would often remind me of the less fortunate and was big on philanthropy and helping the community. Right up until her death, she was generous, kind, and giving to others.
It Only Takes Minutes
Following my grandmother’s wisdom, I decided to begin and end my day with a few minutes dedicated to being thankful. And I kept up this practice even through some of the toughest times in my life. This practice is simple, easy to do, and doesn’t require much time, any money, nor any special conditions to follow. Create your own ritual. But it does require that you open your heart. Because a closed heart won’t get you anywhere. Nor will complaining or feeling sorry for yourself.
Try This: It Just May Change Your Life
First thing in the morning, upon waking, take a moment to sit in your bed in silence, close your eyes to ground yourself, quiet the mind, and inhale fully then exhale slowly. Now you are ready: open your eyes and take in fully your surroundings as if you are seeing them for the first time.
What do you see? Maybe a loving partner sleeping at your side (lucky you), a warm and comfortable bed, and the shelter of your home where you feel safe. Feel gratitude for your safety, home, and the people inside your home.
What do you hear? Maybe birds chirping outside your window or other morning noises. Maybe rain or wind or even the ocean. Feel gratitude for the nature.
How do you feel? Can you feel your chest gently rising and falling with every breathe? Stretch your arms and legs. Can you feel how they obey you? Feel gratitude for your body and your health.
By now, you should be overflowing with feelings of gratitude. Finish by telling yourself today will be an amazing day. Repeat before bed so the last thing you think of before sleep is that you are going to have a terrific next day.
Notice the Changes In Yourself Over Time
Were you ever a complainer? Or someone who felt sorry for themselves? Maybe you just frequently had worries, anxiety, and negative thoughts. Practicing your few minutes of gratitude morning and night is a game changer. You’ll notice your mood changing in general for the better and that you’ll get less upset about small things and have a more positive outlook overall.
Find the Silver Lining
I said it is easy but that isn’t always the case. Through some of the toughest moments in my life, I admit I didn’t always feel gratitude. There were days where I woke up angry, frustrated, or seeking answers. But I made myself still search for things to be grateful for. And believe it or not, never a day came where I couldn’t find a couple of things to give thanks for.
Now It is Your Turn
Did I convince you to give it a try? What do you have to lose? We really need to reduce entitlement and victimhood and remind ourselves that for every problem or trauma in our lives, there is always someone less fortunate. Living with a ‘cup half full’ outlook will give you the right attitude to achieve great things in life.