It’s no secret that living with gratitude can lead to a happier life. Not only is it a nice practice to live with gratitude, but new research has shown that gratitude improves both our physical health and mental health, and has an overall positive affect on our wellbeing.
But what does it mean to live with gratitude? And how can we consciously invite gratefulness into our lives? We spoke to three of our ambassadors about their personal every day rituals that help them appreciate the little things in life…
Inviting the sweetness of thankfulness into my life has become a habit over the years. But rather than engaging in elaborate rituals, what works for me is to cultivate it consistently throughout each day, in small bite-size pieces.
The moment I wake up and open my eyes, I express internally my gratitude for another day alive. Each time I sit to a meal, I first pause before eating and give thanks for the food on my plate. I take a moment to look at the sky, during the day and night, and relax into that vastness, appreciating its beauty. I connect to nature every day and express my gratitude for the magic it brings into my life. And each night, just before I fall asleep, I give thanks for the day, making a mental list of the things I appreciated today.
Cultivating a continuity of thankfulness helps me to embrace my journey from a place of contentment - what in yoga we know as Santosha, one of the Niyamas. When I pause to appreciate how rich and full my life truly is, in the smallest details, I no longer have the space to take anything for granted. Connecting to gratitude throughout each day turns it from a practice into an actual way of living.
I am specifically working with gratefulness for my roots... I have always felt out of beat in some way, never in a defined group in the UK, so each day I am actively inquiring of myself what I appreciate and what I have learned here.
I go on a walk each day and invite this reflection, whilst moving more slowly than my usual pace. I love the countryside on my doorstep and I am lucky to live near woodland, it's important to me to feel the changing seasons, to recognise the extremes of nature that we can see reflected in our lives. The strength and the fragility, the beauty and the raw cruel edges, what is broken, stripped away and what grows anew. Connecting with the changing feel of seasons allows me to find stability within myself and to feel gratitude for the earth beneath my feet and all that springs from it and rests upon it.
"True gratitude is like the rose which blooms not in spite of but because of the thorns that gave it life."
I live my life mindfully with thankfulness for everything - I lack nothing, and I expect everything.
I started my conscious gratitude practice when my life was falling apart. In the process of coming out from a long and toxic relationship, I moved to Kerala in India and stayed there for over two months. Every day I did a lot of yoga in the morning, followed by relaxation at the beach and meditation in the evening. It was during this time that I realised I needed more gratitude in my life - a grateful attitude!
One afternoon browsing at a flea market by the beach, I came across this beautiful handmade notebook, which the very same day became my gratitude diary. Every day I wrote down simple words symbolising things, people and situations that I was grateful for. This helped me to change the way I looked at my life in a big way. I had so much to be thankful for; my yoga teacher, mantras, a yummy smoothie, a drink of coconut water, phone conversations, friends, meals, talks, hugs, sunset meditations, chocolate, birds, a massage, warm weather, and a simple smile… I felt blessed and loved.
The truth is that no matter where you are, who you are or what you have - you can always find something to be thankful for. I bring gratitude into my day by making it the first thing I do in the morning, before I even get out of bed and I consciously enjoy a few deep breaths. I also make a point of appreciating my slow, warm, yummy morning shower, which returns me to my senses. I feel grateful for my body, which is always in the present, no matter where my thoughts take me - all I need is to become back to my senses. I pay attention to the smell of my favourite rose aromatic soap and delicious shampoo while I gently massage my scalp. I’m thankful for the water and its calming effect on my skin.
I continue to cultivate gratefulness as much as I can through learning how to be mindful while I eat and drink, hike and meditate or do yoga. I’m here on Earth to cherish every breath, every moment, every sip and bite with this true and warm feeling of gratitude in my heart.
What about you? How do you bring gratitude into your life? Share with us in the comments below!
Image 1: Pablo Tsukayama // Yogi: Chloe Rose
Image 2: Daniel Taylor // Yogi: Marc Laws II