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Practising Gratitude

I’m a pretty positive person, definitely a glass half full guy rather than a glass half empty. But even I can have those days where nothing seems to go right and I find myself in a spiral of defeat. Not depression, or anything resembling that, but just that feeling as though the Universe is against me for whatever reason and nothing I do is right or good enough.

Yesterday was one of those days. It started great, fabulously in fact as I finished the first draft of my latest cozy mystery novel. As well as working with tarot, feng shui and numerology I also write mystery books under a pen name as I love variety and prefer lots of different jobs, each of which I devote some time to, rather than one which I devote all my time to.

But then everything went wrong in my world. Nothing major, just the minutiae of daily life that we all immerse ourselves in. I couldn’t get the paper to feed through the printer without jamming, and after 40 minutes of cursing I finally fixed it only to print a few sheets before the black ink ran out. Of course, we had no spare black ink cartridges and a trip to the local store proved fruitless as they did not have the cartridge I needed. I then accidently deleted two hours work off the computer without saving it, poured milk instead of water in to the coffee machine, and the bin liner with a chicken carcass, eggs, coffee granules and vegetable peelings split on the way from the kitchen to the dustbin. To cap it all I couldn’t get the vacuum cleaner to work (it has never worked properly since I tried to vacuum up a million pine needles from the Christmas tree). Railing at the world I decided to give up and go for a walk on the beach but forgot to check the tide times and drove to the beach only to find it was high tide. I would have consoled myself with an ice cream if the local ice cream seller had been there but she had obviously decided to take a day off. It was just not my day.

When my husband returned from work and found me slumped on the sofa mindlessly watching Midsomer Murders, he was greeted with a “I’ve had a &*@%£* of a day”, but really of course I hadn’t. I’d had a great day because I started it by finishing the first draft of my latest novel. But I had forgotten that because of what had come after. And even though what had come after was minor in comparison to what I had achieved it had taken precedent in my mind.

When that happens I realise I need to shift my thinking. Create a mindshift and practice gratitude. Practising gratitude doesn’t have to be something that takes up hours a day and it also doesn’t have to be about the big things in life. We can all find something to be grateful for in the small things in life, in the same way as it is the small things in life that can irritate us the most. The first bud on the tree that signifies spring is on its way, watching a child splashing in puddles, or splashing in them ourselves, a walk on the beach, or the forest, or just around the block to feel the rays of winter sun on our face can make us feel grateful to be alive and healthy.

Below are five simple ways to practice gratitude on a daily basis. Each one takes no more than an hour, and helps to frame the day in a positive rather than a negative way:

Start the day by meditating 

To meditate we need to first of all take a few deep breaths of air through our nose and fill our body with air. This should feel free and easy but we should be conscious that we are doing it. 

Now we can focus on the air in our body and empty our mind. It is important to clear our mind before we start the next step. Once we have cleared our mind we should concentrate to think of three things that we have to be grateful for today. They can be simple things and we may find once we start that we can think of more than three which is great. Let this positive energy fill our body and then sit quietly for a few more moments. We are then ready to start the day.

When I do this I also like to burn an incense stick, choosing one that matches with what I want to achieve in the day. If I want to have a great day with my family I burn Sandalwood, if I want to focus on me I burn Amber, my work is represented by Jasmine and love is supported by Rose.

Keep a Journal

I keep a tarot journal of all of my personal readings as it is a great way for me to continue to learn the tarot, and also strengthen my understanding of, and relationship with it. Journalling can be a very powerful way of understanding our life and a gratitude journal is no different.

At the end of each day we should take ten minutes to reflect on what’s happened to us that day that has been great. Our achievements. I do this each night when I get in to bed. They do not have to be major life changing events because we have far more mundane days than significant days, no matter what soap operas would have you believe. But even in the simplest of days we can find at least three things to be grateful for. Thirty minutes playtime with our children, a lovely evening meal, the fact that we found a parking space close to the store in the rain. 

The great thing with a journal is that it is forever and can be referred back to at a later date. On those days which we find challenging we can look back at our journal to see what makes us happy, and incorporate some of those events or tasks in to our day.

Turn a negative in to a positive

However sad, depressing or upsetting the situation we should always try and find a positive. That isn’t to say that we should not acknowledge the hurt, pain or grief we feel, but we should not wallow in it. In the same way that no tarot card is good or bad, no situation is all bad or all good. We may have to look hard but we should be able to find at least one positive to enable us to start to heal.

We may not have got the job we wanted, but it enables us to study a new skill. Our life may have been turned upside down but we have the opportunity to start again and build something better. We may not have any work, but we can perhaps volunteer which helps us make new friends and build more knowledge. Looking for the positive is not to ignore the negative but to be grateful for what we do have, not to be bitter over what we don’t.

Set a Goal

I talk about goals on my Life Goals course that I run and the difference between goals, actions and milestones.

When practising gratitude it is not only important to be grateful for what we have, but to let the Universe know what we want. The sky really is the limit. We can be whatever we want to be. When coming at goals from a place of gratitude it is not about what we don’t have but on focusing on what we want so that our life has purpose and meaning

Goals are what we want, actions are what we are going to do to get what we want, milestones help to keep us on the right path. Perhaps a goal is to have the freedom to do whatever we want in life. If we take the time each day to be grateful for the actions that we have taken to get one step closer to the goal we are much more likely to take action tomorrow and the day after. And have a day filled with achievements. The life we want is within our grasp if only we have the belief in ourselves to reach out and grab it, and remember to take the time to thank the Universe for each step we take.

Make a Difference

I include this one in my book Fifty Ways Too Feel Alive and it is amazing what a difference this can make to our day.

If the Barista making the coffee serves us with a smile tell them how cheerful they look. Ask the bus driver how they are, because although they have no doubt seen countless people very few will have spoken to them. Pay for someone’s parking in the carpark and tell them it’s on us. My husband owns a clothes shop and he is always giving little inexpensive gifts to customers, incense sticks or an essential oil and it is wonderful to see the smile of pleasure and surprise on their face. If someone has given great service write them an email and let them know. Tell a co-worker how kind they are, or thoughtful or hardworking. It costs nothing, or very little to make someone’s day and by making someone else’s day by default we enrich our own.