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We as humans are pleasure-seeking beings.
In today's fast paced culture filled with gadgets & all sorts of entertainment, we are constantly bombarded with easier and faster ways of attaining that pleasure, like scrolling through Instagram, watching Netflix or indulging in junk food.
However, over time these superficial pleasure hits become less and less satisfying, leaving us on an insatiable quest to fill the void. It’s not that there’s anything remotely bad, or that anyone should feel guilty for scrolling, enjoying Netflix or some fun foods, but rather keeping a healthy perspective on the intention behind the use.
Something that has been shown to increase the pleasure centres of the brain & enhance satisfaction in life - even in tightly controlled scientific experiments, is the practice of gratitude.
The daily practice of gratitude has far reaching benefits in uplifting our lives and the lives of those around us, in areas such as:
- Self-esteem & confidence.
- Reducing the effects of chronic stress, trauma, and PTSD.
- Improved sleep.
Gratitude is a practice & art of feeling and/or expressing appreciation for what you have right now - all the simple things that are available to you at this moment (big or small).
Being grateful is not an idea you stick on a Post-It note for a quick shot of feel-good chemicals; it is a powerful state of being, that when remembered & practised throughout the day places us in a higher state. From this place we can work, love, play and engage more presently and authentically.
One way of taking this practice a step further, is to imagine what life would be like without that something or someone. For example, maybe you went through a break up, where upon healing and taking valuable lessons from that relationship, you realised that you may have taken that person for granted, and not fully expressed how grateful you were during the time you spent together - especially after the honeymoon phase. And so, it can enable you to turn that past pain into present pleasure, by reminding yourself who is in your life right now - whether romantic or platonic, and how by acknowledging them or letting them know how special they are, helps bring forth the essence of gratitude & appreciation.
Gratitude is also an extremely potent tool for working through negativity, depression and apathy. Just thinking about - and ultimately feeling what you are grateful for, can help pull you from the vortex of negativity and deliver a renewed perspective and a sense of equanimity and peace.
Here are a few daily prompts, to help you develop an attitude of gratitude:
What 3 things am I grateful for that I can smell/see/hear/touch/taste?
Who are the people I am most grateful to have in my life?
What 3 things am I most grateful for in my house? (e.g. - my bed, my new couch, my dog, my painting, my plants etc.)
What's one thing that brings me joy in my life right now?
What blessings have come my way recently? (someone bought you a coffee, someone smiled at you, you got a promotion etc.)
What can I be grateful for about the place/city I live in?
The take home: Practicing the art of gratitude allows us to be more present in our lives, feeling more fulfilled and less likely to fall into the trap of comparison, criticism and judgement.
It is a simple, yet powerful tool available to each of us, at every moment.
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