Gratitude: The Antidote for Painful Feelings and Fuel for Happiness

Posted by on June 12, 2017 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living, Thrive with 1 Comment


By Jo Ritchie | Tiny Buddha

“The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.” ~Neale Donald Walsch

The longer I travel on my journey, the more I realize that gratitude is the universal antidote to painful feelings. In fact, it’s the quickest route I know to happiness, which makes it a good idea to be grateful all day long.

However, when we are in a low mood or something knocks us off course, it can be easy to forget just how many amazing things there are in our lives to be grateful for, even just in one single day. It’s as if a setback erases our memories of all the good things and it feels like nothing has ever gone right for us.

Like so many things in life, it takes daily practice to develop gratitude. As a wise anonymous person said, “Gratitude is not the result of things that happen to us; it is an attitude we cultivate by practice.” So just how can we practice being thankful and bring more of this into our lives?

For me, my gratitude diary is the single most effective tool to date in my self-development.

It’s not a chore, but a practice that is essential to my well-being, combined with meditation to relax and focus on the present moment. I want to share with you just how I approach this, in the hope that it might support and inspire you too.

A few mornings ago, I woke up very early feeling low, worried, and anxious, and didn’t want to get out of bed. I had suffered a lack of sleep from worrying, and nothing seemed worthwhile.

I was full of fear and doubt about the less conventional path I had chosen for my life. Shouldn’t I be following the nine-to-five work routine like everyone else?! What did I think I was doing trying to follow my dreams?!

I had been used to a fixed structure or routine in my life, like a safety net or comfort zone (not that it had been that comfortable, which was part of the reason I chose something else!) Suddenly, I felt vulnerable without it and panicky. What was going to happen to me? My inner critic was working overtime, and I was momentarily in the grip of my fears.

Luckily, I have established a daily routine of writing in my gratitude diary and doing twenty minutes of meditation first thing every morning for over a year now. I do it without fail, even when I can’t be bothered or it seems pointless. Even when my heart is not in it.

It’s an important ritual that resets my day on a positive note from the very beginning. In the words of Buddha, “Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

Within a few seconds of putting pen to paper, I am reminded of why I do it. Gratitude is a lifesaver. I can’t help but smile as the process of writing helps me remember just how many things I have experienced, even just in the past day, that I am grateful for.

It’s not so much the words on the page, but the process of recalling the memories and writing them down.

This also makes me feel, again, the enjoyable emotions that I felt at the time I experienced these things, so it reinforces the positive feelings and sets up a sort of loop of gratitude and of happiness.

In the words of another anonymous speaker of wisdom, “When you smile about the life you live, you end up living a life worth smiling about.”

So, here are my tips for how to establish and maintain an effective daily gratitude practice:

Pick a time of day that suits you.

The morning is without a doubt the best time for me to write my diary. It sets me up for the day. Not only do I have the chance to review all the wonderful experiences of the day before, but this programs my mind, right at the beginning of my day, to look for things to be thankful for in everything I do.

I also know people who write such a diary in the evening so that they go to bed having reviewed and appreciated everything in that day.

Try different times of day to see what works best for you as an individual rather than subscribe to how other people approach this.


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