Living A Life Of Gratitude

gratitude

I’ve never been one for gratitude lists.

In fact I’ve usually been one who looks down upon such things, thinking them trivial and not worth doing.

On an unconscious level I’m sure that I practice being grateful for things in my life. I’m grateful for my wife, family and friends.

I’m grateful for the fact that I’ve been able to live such an extraordinary life and that my body is healthy and strong.

My thoughts have always somewhat been present to having appreciation for my life.

However recently realized that there was something missing for me about the practice.

Something that was lacking.

Growing up Roman Catholic, grace always had a religious context for me. Something I did not quite understand but had to sit through and endure while I waited to eat my meal.

I’m not interested in making this post about religion, for me personally I had my own reservations regarding religion in general.

For most faiths there is a core message that is inherently good and true, but many times is wrapped up in a bit too much guilt, obligation and sin for my liking.

I never really realized what grace was really all about until recently.

Growing up it was something we did that never really made sense. My grandfather’s did it, my dad did it and I just shut my mouth, stayed quiet and bent my head when it was said.

For me it just occurred as some ritual that needed to get over and done with as quick as possible so I could get to my food and eat.

After recently celebrating Thanksgiving at my parents house (Yes we Canadians have it almost a full month earlier than the Americans)  it dawned on me that I have never really taken saying grace at my parents’ place seriously. It’s still to this day a ritual that means something to my parents but not to me.

There have been countless studies done and articles written on the best ways to find happiness, and be fulfilled. Across almost all the essays and tests one tried and true constant finding has been gratitude. (Like this one by Harvard Medical School)

Gratitude is the quickest most sure-fire way to allow for and create the experience of happiness in one’s life.

Recently I watched a movie where grace was being shared by a family after they had endured some very hard circumstances. In watching them come together as a family to show gratitude for having survived something shifted for me in regards to the idea of grace.

You see I could actually get that for the first time that it’s not about some religious ritual, but in fact a way to carve out a moment in time to express gratitude for what is in my life.

So I talked it over with my wife and we started to practice making gratitude a regular part of our meals.

With both of us considering our selves spiritual without being religious we created a sort of ‘Godless-grace’ where we made sure to have our practice be one of presence and appreciation rather than of any religion. We decided to call it Grace-full Gratitude.

I’ve been practicing this off and on now for about 2 weeks, and it has been tough at first to not feel the familiar monotony when we first started, many times when we first began it felt forced and too religious but after the last few weeks we have found a way to do it that works for us there are some really neat things that I have already noticed:

The first thing is that I’ve slowed down my eating. My meals take longer to eat. Now, that might not seem like a big deal but for me I’ve struggled with that for a long time. In fact, my wife has said in the past that the speed in which I eat makes her anxious and now being able to slow down has had a great effect on my relationship not only with my wife but with my food.

Furthermore, because meals are taking longer, I’m finding my wife and I having more conversation at the dinner table which in turn is having us both feel more connected.

It’s also helped me be more present to my life.

In those moments where I’m taking a time out to reflect on what I’m grateful for I’m way more in the moment.

Once I get present to what I’m grateful for, everything else seems to melt away. There’s no worry or concern about the future, no conversation about what I should do next, no thinking about what i have not done or didn’t do. It is the ultimate practice (outside of meditation) that I currently do that has me Be Here Now.

I’m simply in the moment reflecting and happy about what I’ve accomplished in my life in that morning, moment or day..

The last thing that I feel has had the biggest impact on is the way in which it has helped silence my inner critic.

I’ve had a lot of issues with my inner critic in the past. There have been many times where something didn’t work out that I thought would or I’d be unhappy with how I’m doing in business.

It would be very easy for me to get upset and down about what I was doing.

I’d start comparing myself with other people who are more successful and wonder why I’m not as successful as they are.

I’d tell myself that I’m not good enough and that I should just pack it in.

Sometimes things would seem pretty bleak and the future wouldn’t be so bright.

By taking on a practice of gratitude I’ve had less and less of those moments.

Sure I still have my doubts but never a full blown meltdown about who I am and what I’m up to because though there are still much for me to accomplish and get done, I’m now much more  present to what I have accomplished and how far I have come.

It is so easy to get caught up in striving for more achievements and crossing off your To Do list, and looking at what other ways we can get more, bigger and better stuff, but devoting concentrated intentional time to being present, acknowledging the ground we’ve covered and just being able to truly see what we have right in front of us right now.

That is a very rare habit for most people.

And that’s something that I never would have gotten present to had I not taken on the practice of bringing in gratitude before my meals.

So, if you are struggling in an area of your life, whether it’s being present or taking stock of your life, then my invitation to you is to take on a practice of gratitude.

It doesn’t have to be a huge thing, just a few moments each day to reflect on what you’ve got in your life to be grateful for.

Try it out, you just might surprise yourself with the results you get from it.

Do you have a gratitude practice in your life? If so I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

To your relationship success,

Scott

P.S.

If you would like to take this one and unsure how to create your own version of gratitude before meals without using the familiar religious tones, send me an email and I can send you some great Grace-full Gratitudes that my wife and I have created that work for us in a non-denominational way to get your started on your own path to deep happiness, profound presence and slowing down.

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