Gratitude is a wondrously simple phenomenon. It can move mountains, change mindsets, dissolve frustration and anger. It can take the edge off a traumatic period in time so that you can catch your breath enough to move forward with a clearer head.
How Lucky Are We?
As a child, I was always taught by my parents not to gloat about my winnings in life. However, I have to say that expressing the magnitude of my good fortune is a wonderful thing which inspires others to see and experience similar magic within their own lives. To be thankful for good food, wonderful friends, the beauty and power of wildlife, vibrant flowers. It all gives you a megawatt smile. Quite frankly, we need more of those to light up the dull days that others may be going through.
A few years ago, whilst living in Christchurch (New Zealand) I discovered that going for long walks held the key to emotional and mental freedom. At the time, I was dealing with some particularly stressful life situations. I was working in a very stressful job and caring for my partner who was ill and going through depression. At the time I felt my world being sucked into a sad and sorry vortex that I had no control over. However, what I learnt was that I did have some control!
Expressing gratitude involuntarily can shift your mind from a poverty mindset to one of abundance.
Whilst going for walks I took time to stop and appreciate the natural environment around me. I took photos of things I noticed along the way. By the time I reached home I no longer felt down. I felt refreshed and my mind and emotions elevated. I went from feeling frustrated, angry and confused in that moment to feeling a sense of gratitude, appreciation, contentment and joy. My home-life glass was half full instead of half empty.
Gratitude is Contagious!
Another cool thing I discovered is that an attitude of gratitude is contagious. About those afore-mentioned photos I took whilst going for walks – well I posted them on Facebook. People started commenting on how lucky I was to be living surrounded with such beauty. When I reminded these people that this beauty is found where they live, they realised how lucky they are.
Gratitude Has Healing Powers!
In 2016, the McCormack family went through a bit of a rough trot health-wise. It was a very emotional and stressful time as we were all confronted with our mortality and the prospect of losing those we love. A natural tendency for most of us going through a time like this is to cry out to the Universe, “why me?”.
Throughout her cancer journey my sister, Janine discovered that mental and emotional health challenges were just as debilitating as physical health challenges. Sometimes even more so.
Not only was she forced to re-think her life plan, Janine also had to find a way to protect those closest to her heart from the harsh realities she was facing. Many times it was like trying to stay afloat in a deep pool of water, gasping for air as fatigue set in. Even when grasping on to a glimmer of positivity in terms of her situation, someone would voice a concern that Janine was in denial about her health situation.
Even during her darkest moments, Janine continued to express how thankful she was for the people around her. She expressed gratitude for her friends, family, for her medical practitioners, for her work colleagues, and for medical technology readily available. Much of the medical treatment was not in existence years prior. To Janine, she is (and remains) the luckiest human being alive.
Practicing Gratitude Is Ongoing
Yes, Janine is now in remission and has been given a fairly clean bill of health. The emotional and mental battles still continue as she proceeds to get her life back on a long and healthful path. Without the freshness and clarity that gratitude brings, a dark time in life would have spiralled further down to an even darker place. The essence of gratitude has enabled Janine to weather the darkest storm of her life to date.
As with any storm there are torrential tears, and angry thunderstorms. However, during the calm after the storm there is a freshness which soothes and revitalises. It brings with it a certain retrospective clarity as you reflect on what you have, rather than what you haven’t.