Finding gratitude in every moment

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

Two dear friends recently asked me to post five things for five days for which I am grateful. This is part of a Facebook campaign to promote gratitude.  I thought it might be better to blog on the subject so here goes…!

For me, gratitude is part of my daily mindfulness practice. Each morning, I try to identify three reasons to be grateful. Simple things like the sun shining or birds chirping their morning tune not only makes me feel grateful but also adds to my happiness putting a smile on my face and a skip in my step.

The unconditional love for my children and the blessing of watching them grow rates highly on my gratitude list. The smell of fresh flowers, hugs from friends, tasty food prepared with love, the ability to forgive both myself and others, all of these things bring cause to be grateful.

Children in western society have access to clean water, warm beds, food, technology and much more. Many take family vacations, to the sun during summer and skiing in winter. After school activities are widely available with access to sports, music, art, dancing. They are truly privileged.

Children want for nothing and yet they always seem to want more. Their access to excess on a grand scale brings with it a sense of entitlement. I have tried to teach my children the difference between privilege and entitlement.  Gratitude, in my view, is the best tool for this teaching.

If children and adults alike can show gratitude for the big and the small, the grand and the humble, then life can truly be appreciated. Your darkest days will be brighter as you  can be grateful for the knowledge that above the clouds the sun is shining and the sky is blue.

If I were to write an equation for happiness, it would not be complete without gratitude. In my equation happiness would equal self awareness plus non attachment minus external influence multiplied by gratitude plus celebration!

Let me explain… Self awareness helps us to “drop in” to our body creating some space from where we can witness the preoccupations of the mind. Adding non attachment allows us to observe the train of thoughts without jumping on board and getting carried away to some imaginary place or time that is not the present moment.

Subtraction of external influence allows us to move closer to being our true self without colouring who we are with the thoughts or opinions of another person or society.

By being grateful we multiply our connection to happiness which is always inside should we look for it. Adding celebration is uplifting and allows our happiness to overflow infecting those around us with smiles.

As you walk your path in life, stay connected to yourself without getting lost in thoughts of past or future events. Find reasons to be grateful.  Allow your happiness to bubble up into smiles and laughter and do not wait for reasons to celebrate. Go outside and dance in the rain for you are alive and that is reason enough!!