Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
By Stephanie Marston
There is an ancient custom in Thailand for expressing gratitude. On the grounds of the temples throughout the country are placed hundreds of brass bowls. The custom is that as a person walks past a bowl they drop a coin in and as the coin rings they say something for which they are grateful.
An American woman was visiting one of these temples and as she walked around the temple grounds she followed this custom. As she paused at the first bowl she said, "I'm grateful for my family." At the second bowl she said, "I'm thankful for my health." In bowls three, four and five she expressed gratitude for her love of music, the natural world, her spiritual life. Then she panicked.
The woman saw countless bowls before her and she was afraid that she had run out of things for which to be grateful. She stood for a moment searching her mind for yet another blessing. After a few minutes the woman was flooded with how much she had in her life for which to give thanks. With this new realization the woman approached the next bowl, and the next and completed the process.
The woman decided that before she returned home she would purchase a brass bowl. To this day she continues this ritual. Every morning she acknowledges the small kindness, the little noticed blessings of everyday life. As a result of this experience and her continued practice she discovered that the blessings are everywhere we choose to look. We simply have to learn to recognize and appreciate them.
All to often we focus on what we don't have, what we can't afford, what's missing from our lives. Many of us often want more when we don't genuinely appreciate what we already have. Yet when we shift our perspective we realize how much we have to be grateful for.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life," wrote Melody Beattie. It turns what we have into enough, and more... It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
An added benefit of expressing your gratitude is that your sense of well being will also increase. In a study reported in Time Magazine it was found that gratitude is a key component in personal happiness. People who are grateful about specific things, who focus on sweet triumphs instead of disappointments tend to be more satisfied.
That said, why not get into the habit of spending a few minutes each day recognize what you're grateful for. For example, I'm grateful for my health, I'm grateful for my home, for the love and support in my life, for my family, for my work, etc. I think you'll find that remembering what you're grateful for will make a difference in how you feel.