Most people want to live a life of significance; they want their life to mean something, maybe it’s to make the world a better place, maybe it’s to raise their children with good values, maybe its fame and glory; whatever that “something” is there is a notion that holds people back. The notion that “I am waiting to ….” get rich, get an excellent job, get married, gain knowledge or experience, graduate, start a business etc. the list of reasons is endless. The truth is, you can be significant where you are and with what you have. I believe the first step in realizing your own significance and how to live a life of meaning and purpose is through gratitude. We all know that gratitude is a way to show appreciation for love, kindness, health, a good life, even suffering. It is an intentional act of being thankful for who you are, what you have, and what you aspire to be.
My life transforms through gratitude and being grateful for everything in my life. I learned at an early age that it is OK to generalize gratitude, but when you intentionally specify and name what you are grateful for, it becomes more significant and you experience a deeper appreciation in your soul. In other words, your whole being participates in thanksgiving; your mind, body, heart, spirit, your soul…everything. Instead of saying I am grateful for my family, specify and name each of them. To take this one step deeper, intently look at the relationship with each of them; it doesn’t have to be big or complicated. For example: “I am grateful for my wife and the strong relationship we have. I know we had some miscommunication today so how can I be better?”
I do the same thing with friends, work, and other everyday things. This enriches my life in a big way; It helps me be more aware of the blessings in my life and be grateful for all things. This also helps to intentionally evaluate myself and my relationships. Why is this important? It allows me to ask, what can I do to add value to others? What can I do better the next time I am serving my family, or my clients or friends? I make gratitude about action and not just words.
Being grateful for our health, specifically by being grateful for our body is an area that is not emphasized in our culture. Instead the emphasis is on “what’s wrong with your own body” and on how to fix it. However, it is another area that I like to specify and name what I am grateful for. By being grateful you show appreciation and then take action to improve on what you want to change. We know, many people who don’t like their bodies and always complain about that one “problem area” or several areas that are too big, too small or not toned. I always remind them to be grateful for their body even specific body parts that you can intentionally choose at random. The best part about being grateful for your body is that you can feel it. Be grateful for your lungs, or your eyebrows, or your pinky finger. Next time you are scratching your head looking for something to be grateful for, be grateful for your nails that scratch your head. When you stand in front of a mirror, are you grateful for who and what you see (not just physical) or do you judge yourself?
I must admit gratitude is a continuous life process. In general, what I try to do is be aware of where I am, what I am doing, and who I am with; this enables me to be truly present and grateful for all of life’s moments. Gratitude, should be expressed inwardly and outwardly every time you have an opportunity and not limited to specific days like Thanksgiving, Birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s Day and Christmas. I also believe that it is important to schedule a time to reflect on deep gratitude. Take an hour a week (or even 10-20mins) and really focus on the specifics as to why you were thankful throughout your week.
We all can offer gratitude, regardless of our situations. I have discovered the value and positive impact of practicing the art of gratitude. This amazing mindset for gratitude fuels enthusiasm for life, it gives you a better awareness of those things that are most important to you and helps you discover your why, your purpose/mission in life. Being intentional in our gratitude heals our mind, hearts and soul. It’s a sure way of increasing happiness and living a purposeful life. Gratitude CAN change everything.