Have you recently said to yourself:
“I can’t believe it’s the weekend already!" and do you feel like your life is flying by week after week, with not much extraordinary to recall or cherish?
It's easy to get caught up in the hectic routine of everyday living and forget to express your appreciation to those that matter to you the most. You see in a fast paced life or one that is heavily set in routine its easy to take for granted those around you.
Lets change that by taking a moment to learn about and practice gratitude for your relationship.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion who's value is often overlooked or under used. It's simple to use and is slowly growing in popularity as a go-to way of producing natural happiness and contentment in life and relationships.
What do you crave?
Respect, love, admiration? What about acknowledgement, being thanked for your contribution, being valued at home and at work? What else do you crave in your life? Romance, laughter, freedom, justice?
Take a few moments to connect with your inner thoughts on what you value and need as a human on this earth.
What you crave, like the examples above is probably very similar (in varying degrees) to that of your partner, your neighbour, family, friends and co-workers.
By introducing the practice of gratitude into your life, you enlighten not only those around you but yourself – your inner-being as well. The effects can be quite profound.
You might be thinking, “oh I don’t have time to think of all of this during my busy stressful day! I have too much to do and need to focus!”
The good news is, practicing gratitude is an effective way to lower stress, makes you feel good, and is likely to make you more effective in your work and ‘warmer’ when you get home.
Take a moment to think about the relationships in your life and consider a time when you felt gratitude for that person.
Picture in your mind the event; the person; what you were doing, how they made you feel; their nature, their grace.
Hold that thought and let the feeling soak all through your body.
Feels good doesn’t it.
Now imagine you have the power to produce this feeling for others and be able to ‘turn it on’ for yourself in the future! Well you can!
You do this by practicing gratitude in you day.
Let’s focus on practicing gratitude with your partner to build a closer relationship.
But first, let’s cover some common mistakes so we can get off on the right foot and really get some gratitude flowing!
An easy mistake people make is about ‘assumption’. It can be easy to assume that someone in your life knows what you're thinking or feeling at any given time.
Without expressing how you are feeling it’s very difficult for someone else to know how you are feeling, and how they should respond.
So if you are grateful for something, don’t assume they know it.
You may think, “yeah but I said thanks”.
But that’s not enough to stand out, everyone says thanks.
Go the extra mile and actively practice gratitude - let the people in your life know how important and loved they are by expressing your ‘thanks’ deeper. Do it with gratitude and let them know they matter to you.
It could be as simple as placing your hand affectionately on their shoulder, looking into their eyes and saying:
“Hey honey, thanks for listening to me today, and taking the time to comfort me. It’s a stressful time at work, and I really appreciate you taking the time to help me calm down, and see the bigger picture, that I sometimes miss. You know me so well, and that’s why I love you!” “What can I do to show you I love you too?”
The second common mistake is around ‘waking up’ from autopilot and being more consciously aware.
Your brain is built for efficiency by using habits and routine to conserve energy. Lazy brains!
This might explain why you don’t really remember each drive home from work, maybe there are more parts of your life that are on autopilot than you’d like?
There are many tricks and strategies to become more attentive throughout your day to provoke more awareness, and we can use these tips to trigger us into practicing gratitude.
A simple one to start with is to use your senses and notice the things around you. Be a keen observer. Whats the weather doing? what color shirt is the boss wearing? what does lunch really taste like today? How comfortable am I in these new shoes?
The more you practice the more consciously aware you will become. It will become ‘a part of who you are’.
There are so many ways the list could be endless. To get you thinking it helps to break down how you express gratitude.
Gratitude can expressed with words, a gift, a message, an offer, an invite, a tradition or even a favour in return.
As mentioned earlier you need to express your gratitude beyond the everyday “thanks”.
One way of expressing gratitude is by noting:
One – Observing the act of kindness or whatever it is you area grateful for. Take a moment to observe all the moving parts and people around the act or gesture.
Two – Reflect on how you are feeling. Connect with the emotions, and name them. Expand your emotional vocabulary and become more aware of the nuances in your emotions, expressions and language.
Three – Understand your needs, and the needs of others.
Needs of connection, intimacy, a sounding board, someone to confide in and someone to hold the door open as you bring the groceries in.
Knowing these three parts of gratitude helps you to express your gratitude fully and from the heart. It can take some practice, but you will quickly get the hang of it.
Putting the three pieces together and expressing your observation is the process of practicing gratitude. In its simplest form and by way of example you could express your gratitude by saying:
“Thanks for bringing in the washing” [observation]. “I feel relieved and less stressed now, [feelings] as that’s one less thing I need to do. I’m grateful my gym gear is all washed and ready to go for tomorrow’s class” [needs]. “I love that I can count on you”.
Further reflection on this simple example, could uncover feelings of trust, love, peace, respect, happiness and confidence.
It’s the smaller day to day interactions that add up to create the bigger more rounded emotions of love, happiness and contentment, amongst many others of course.
There you go, try it for yourself. Start small and practice the three part formula for the best results. Notice how you feel afterwards, you might even practice gratitude for yourself as a form of self soothing and self reward. Thank yourself for looking after yourself. Thank yourself for practicing gratitude toward others.