Many spiritual teachers tout the benefits of gratitude practice, and I agree. This exercise, especially if done daily, helps reorient the negative, judgmental mind away from depressing, problem-focused thoughts toward more positive, uplifting thoughts. Instead of worrying and obsessing over what is not working in your life, you are able to realize that there is much more good in your life than you may have assumed. Gratitude practice follows the old advice to “count your blessings” when you’re feeling down.
Doing gratitude practice regularly—such as writing down three things you are grateful for in a journal every day—helps you establish a positive, hopeful attitude, even when life is difficult, which will ultimately make your journey more pleasant and will draw more positive people and opportunities to you. Also, thanks to the brain’s plasticity, it will over time create neural pathways in your brain that will automatically orient you in a positive direction, no matter the situation.
Fortunately, there is never any shortage of things to be grateful for. Here are ten things you can say “thank you” for today:
- Your health. Even if you are facing health challenges right now, you can be thankful for your health. If one organ or joint is not working well, there are likely many other systems or parts in your body that are. Those other processes in the body, along with whatever assistance medicine and other healing techniques can provide, will likely be key to creating greater health for you, so don’t forget to be thankful for the health that you have.
- Your relationships. Interacting with other people is the primary way that our mind, heart, and soul are challenged to rise to a greater level. Through the people in our lives, whether we like them or not, we are met with an unparalleled opportunity to love better and love bigger, beyond our small egoic selves, so be grateful for all of the people who come in and out of your life.
- The food you eat. We are fortunate to be living in a time when food is plentiful for many of us. Enjoy that, but never take that for granted. Many generations of people, and some people even today, have not been so lucky and had to struggle to get enough food to stay strong and healthy. Also, remember to give thanks for all the people who bring this abundance to you—the farmers, grocers, cooks, and everyone else involved.
- Your senses. Can you imagine what it would be like if you had been born without any of your five senses? Really, it would be no life at all since you would have little perception of your existence here on earth. So, take the time to be grateful for what they bring to you, especially any time you see some beautiful scenery, hear a piece of inspiring music, smell and taste your favorite food, or touch the cheek of a loved one.
- The earth. Our planet can rightly be called out ultimate mother. In this vast, cold universe, she provided the nurturing environment that has allowed life to flourish in all its forms. With all our technological advances, we are still as dependent on this little blue sphere for everything we need—water, air, food. Be continuously grateful for her sustenance, and do what you can to act on her behalf.
- Your body. Your body is your vehicle for your soul’s journey here on earth. In our culture, we spend too much time bemoaning the fact that our bodies may not look perfect or have the talents of a super athlete. Nevertheless, our bodies do their jobs for us—getting us where we need to go and allowing us to progress on our journeys, so be thankful for its tireless service.
- Your brain. You were born with an amazing brain. You do not need to be a genius for that to be true. Your brain creates the habits that allow you to function within this society, and it allows you to find new solutions when obstacles arise. Be thankful for all its wonderful abilities, from everyday decision making to fanciful flights of imagination.
- Your heart. Through your heart, you can connect to others through love and compassion. The heart can be sensitive, prone to heartbreak and disappointment, but it is nonetheless a precious gift that gives depth and meaning to lives that otherwise might be cruel and empty. So, once in a while, place your hand on your heart and say to yourself, “Thank you my heart.”
- Your soul. Your soul is the everlasting part of you that transcends this lifetime and this three-dimensional world. Never forget that it is the center of your being, and be grateful for that, since its growth and expansion is the reason for your journey here.
- Your life. Your life here on this earth and in this body is a special gift to your soul. It is a precious opportunity to grow yourself and your soul. Whatever difficulties you face, always be grateful for this gift of life and everything that it brings.
Really, there are endless things in this life to be grateful for. You can probably look around you and see something that will remind you how fortunate you are, if you are open to it. You might see a photograph of some joyful experience you’ve had, or see more cherished trinket you keep on a shelf. Or, you could be grateful for the computer you are reading this article on and for our chance to connect together in this way. Blessings are everywhere, so never forget to be grateful in every moment of every day.