The Gratitude Exercise
I close every day thinking about 3 things (at least) that I’m grateful for. I learned this practice from my young niece and nephew. I picked them up one weekend and before going to sleep they asked me to join them in their gratitude exercise.
I thought the exercise was silly, like a child’s game. First my niece closed her eyes and said she was grateful for grandpa’s belly, because it was round, fluffy and comfortable, she also mentioned being grateful for the lady that prepared her sandwich at Subway that day. My nephew was next, he looked me in the eyes and told me he was grateful for me and that he valued everything I did for them, and he also said he was grateful for his father for teaching them this exercise that he could share with his loved ones. By the end of the exercise I was in tears, I hugged them tight and thanked them for filling my heart with love.
Making gratitude a habit
Gratitude should be something habitual in our lives. The simple act of thinking about who and what we’re grateful for can make such a big difference.
Here are just a few reasons:
Gratitude transforms bad things into good things. Many times we think of something as negative, stressful, harmful, sad, unfortunate, difficult. Giving thanks to those things is a great way to remind yourself that there is good in just about everything. Problems can be seen as opportunities to grow and to be creative.
Gratitude sheds light on the positive things in our lives. The act of being grateful makes you happy about the places, situations and people in your life, whether they’re loved ones or just a stranger you met who was kind to you in some way.
Gratitude reminds you to thank others. The simple act of saying “thank you” to someone can make a big difference in that person’s life. Calling them, emailing them, stopping by to say thank you and even in a text! People like being appreciated for who they are and what they do. Making someone else happy will make you happy too. I even thank myself, for things that I’ve done. (It’s important to recognize your own accomplishments).
We have opportunities to show gratitude every day, there is always a positive, always something to be thankful for. Today, I look back at the year I’ve had, at the trials and successes, and I feel incredibly grateful. Grateful that the ups outweighed the downs, the sunny days outnumbered the cloudy, that there was always that bright spot glistening through.
Let me leave you with a gratitude poem that I’ve always found… well, perfect:
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
~ Author Unknown ~
Ana Khan is a photographer for Ama Photography by Aisha Khan and a Board Member of I Know Somebody Houston. By serving on the Board, Ana fulfills her passion of giving back, inspiring hope and growth.