We have lots of opportunities to be grateful through our day. Not just for the big things but the small pleasures that can lighten your day. It is an abundant world, people are kind to us, we can eat good food, watch the play of light and shade on the hills as clouds race across the sky, hear the sound of a child’s laughter.
We don’t often allow ourselves to feel good about things for any length of time. It is much easier for us to spend hours worrying about a problem, than to spend seconds feeling good about something. As Rick Hanson, neurologist and author of Buddha’s Brain, once put it: ‘our minds are like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for good ones.’
If you spend a lot of time worrying about things there isn’t much capacity available to feel good. So to enjoy good feelings goes against our grain and we need a little practice feeling good to allow those feelings in.
Here’s one way of being able to feel deeply grateful and enjoy it.
1. Think of something that you are grateful for.
It can be as simple as you like, the first cup of coffee in the morning, the greeting of a friendly neighbour, the fact that someone else has done the washing up. The thing you bring to mind can be as big or small as you like.
I’ll use the cup of coffee as an example of how this process works.
2. As you think about what you are grateful for, let whatever feelings you have about it be there in your awareness. We often glide over these feeling in our hurry to get to the next moment. Take a moment to savour this experience.
3. Whilst feeling the feeling, ask yourself: ‘What does having (whatever it is) give me that I wouldn’t otherwise have?’.
4. The answer to this question may be another feeling or a thing or activity of some sort. If the answer is a feeling, allow yourself to enjoy this new feeling for half a minute or more – the only thing you need to do is immerse yourself in this feeling and enjoy it for a while. If the answer is a thing or activity let yourself enjoy the feeling of this gives you.
Question: What does having the first cup of coffee in the morning give me that I wouldn’t otherwise have?
Answer: It lets me know I am in a safe place and starting a new day.
Please note that what your first cup of coffee in the morning might mean to you is probably going to be completely different to mine and that’s fine. There are no right and wrong things to feel in this exercise.
The only right answer to these questions are your answers.
5. When you have enjoyed the feeling, put this feeling into the question: ‘What does having (this feeling) give me that I wouldn’t otherwise have?’. Enjoy the feeling of the answer to this new question for half a minute.
Question: What does knowing I am in a safe place and starting a new day give me that I wouldn’t otherwise have.
6. When you have enjoyed this feeling for half a minute or more, ask yourself the question ‘What does having (this feeling) give me that I wouldn’t otherwise have?’. Enjoy the feeling of the answer for half a minute.
Question: What does contentment give me that I wouldn’t otherwise have.
7. As you continue putting the answer to the last question into the next question you will probably find the answer having a deeper more profound feeling. Repeat the process acknowledging and enjoying each feeling that arises as you go through this process.
At some point the answer to the question will probably be a core feeling: love, peace, oneness or some other feeling that is deeply important to you.
Enjoy that core feeling for as long as you like. Taking the time to enjoy the feeling allows it to become more familiar. The more familiar it is, the easier it will be to access that feeling at other times (like everything else we get good at what we practice).
While savouring that deep feeling, bring to mind whomever or whatever you feel grateful to for making this feeling possible. It might be a person or people, your Higher self, Guardian Angel, God, Nature, Life, whomever or whatever resonates for you.
From within this feeling thank them for making this possible for you. Feel the feeling and feel the gratitude for this feeling.
From within this feeling of peace I think of all the circumstances and people who got me to this point, starting with my parents & family and all people who have been good for me up to this present moment and life itself for having brought me along for the ride.
Continue to enjoy this process for as long as you like and as often as you like. Being able to enjoy gratitude has been shown to lessen depression and increase well being – what’s more it’s enjoyable!
Thank you to you as well for reading this far, I hope you try this process out and find it useful.