It’s very rare that a new idea or concept comes along and completely changes your life. When such a thing happens there’s really no choice but to grab hold of it with both hands and immerse yourself fully. Since I discovered the astonishing power of gratitude, my life has improved beyond recognition.
It started with a book. I picked up The Magic by Rhonda Byrne just over five years ago. I’d read her first book, The Secret, a few years before. Although I completely agreed with the concept and ideas within its pages, over time my memory of it faded as did its impact.
The Magic, on the other hand, has changed the way I think, feel and live my life forever. I worry less, appreciate more and am significantly happier as a result. Don’t get me wrong, I still experience bad days and encounter negative thoughts and feelings, but I’m now better equipped to turn them around with thankfulness. And if that isn’t possible (on really bad days it may not be), I’ve learned to observe negative thoughts and feelings and understand their temporary nature. Then let them go and wait for a more positive vibe to appear.
Before I discovered the art of gratitude, I would have described myself as a grateful person. I have lovely manners after all. Yet I had a core belief that my happiness depended upon external factors. I went from one ambition or dream to the next, believing that when I arrived at the next stop I would be happy. Each time I got what I wanted, the happiness was short lived. Temporary happiness felt wonderful but it always melted away as soon as I convinced myself I needed something else. I couldn’t see my own power to cultivate happiness based on more reliable factors.
There were – and still are – so many blessings in my life. I’d never noticed them before, let alone appreciated or given thanks for them. Cupboards full of food, clean water, electricity, heating, drainage… I could go on for hours. These are all pretty huge necessities for a comfortable life and yet, until I read the Magic, I had never once felt any gratitude for these ‘hidden’ blessings.
The same can be said for my health, which has always been excellent. I can see, I can hear, I have a healthy heart, a healthy brain, I can walk etc etc. Yet not a single word of thanks for the gift of health ever passed my lips. I only ever noticed my health when I felt ill or something hurt. Once I recovered, I forgot all about it. This complete unawareness of good health didn’t register in my heard until Rhonda Byrne pointed it out in her book. A few years after I discovered the power of gratitude, I lost my second daughter to a serious heart condition. Good health is everything and I swore to never under-appreciate it again.
I think The Magic resonated with me because, for the first time in my life, I opened my eyes and saw all the blessings I receive on an hourly basis. Finding and appreciating these positives is so important. I used to be a perpetual worrier – locked in limitless cycles of anxieties and ‘what ifs?’ Breaking free from this mind-trap was one of my biggest achievements.
I used to look around my world and see nothing but problems and troubles. I used to focus on what was wrong and what I lacked. Today, I see a life full of blessings, privileges and love. I recognise how so many people around the world would do anything for my freedom, safety and comfort. As the European Refugee crisis has highlighted, many people will risk their lives in pursuit of a life like mine.
Practising gratitude takes time and discipline. I make a conscious effort to be grateful everyday in order to maintain my positivity and happiness levels. When they dip, I work harder.
I strive to share this knowledge with my kids so gratitude becomes second nature to them. I hope they will be able to reap the rewards of gratitude without ever having to think about it. Just imagine how incredible that would be.