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In very simple terms, 'Gratitude' is defined as - the quality of being thankful; being ready to show appreciation for and return kindness. On paper, this is a wonderfully simple thing, but how many of us actually practice it?
In a tête-à-tête with Boldsky, Kavitha Garla, a public speaker and life coach, shares the magic of gratitude, ways to practice it and how it can help us in the time of covid 19 pandemic.
On asking Kavitha, what are the things she is grateful for, she says, 'A few years ago, I would have thought long and hard before coming up with just 3 things; but now if you ask me, my list is endless ...! This is only and only because I am aware of the unbound ABUNDANCE that exists not only in my life but in the universe itself.'
Cultivate The 'Attitude of Gratitude'
There is a certain Magic you start experiencing when you make Gratitude a way of life: it brings a lot of peace and happiness to your being, says Kavitha. 'Believe it or not, this is because gratitude is magnetic and the more gratitude you have for all that exists now in your life and for the future ... the more abundance, happiness, joy, and positivity you will magnetize and bring into your life!'
- By Gratitude Journals: Reading Gratitude journals is the easiest way to practice gratitude. By simply writing down 10 things we are grateful for every morning, one's mood can shift to a more positive one. Therefore, one feels charged up to deal with anything. 'I love Gratitude Journals. If you are reading this and have never practised gratitude then a Gratitude journal is the easiest way to start,' says Kavitha.
Personally, my Gratitude Journal is always next to me and the moment I feel thankful for anything/anyone, I write it down! I also end the day with reflecting and writing down - What went well during the day, even the tiniest moments and feel completely grateful for all those moments I had the privilege of being part of.
- By Expressing Gratitude: Saying a simple 'Thank You' may seem so easy but how often do we really mean it or express it? Start by saying 'Thank You' to your near and dear ones like your parents, spouse, friends, help, security guard ... anyone who makes your life a little better in ANY small way. Acknowledging and appreciating others efforts is a very important aspect of practising Intentional Gratitude.
If you're at work, try this out - send an email with a note of appreciation to a co-worker who helped or ran a project well. At home, if you enjoyed a meal your mother cooked, take time out to tell her what you liked about the meal. Lifting others up with your appreciation causes a ripple effect of goodness. Wherever I am and whatever I do - I never miss a chance to smile and say THANK YOU!
- The Mindset: The most effective long term way to bring gratitude into your life, is to carry an 'Attitude of Gratitude' with you throughout the day. This helps to develop an awareness of all things going on around you, that are small blessings that make your life better - which you may ordinarily ignore or not even notice!
In Maya Angelou's words 'Be present in all things and thankful for all things.' Therefore, for me, it's also important to be thankful for the things that may not go my way - which is why I like to give my thanks for the lessons learnt from these instances, adds Kavitha.
The easy formula? Make the A(Attitude) of G(Gratitude) a habit!
Gratitude During COVID-19 Pandemic
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I realised that many people were experiencing anxiety, depression, negativity and that's when I started Gratitude Circles on WhatsApp, says Kavitha. It was a 28-day Gratitude 'Challenge' based on Rhonda Byrne's book - The Magic. Since then I have run many Gratitude Circles. Here are some of the benefits:
• Simply writing down 10 things we are grateful for every day changed the MOOD in which people started their day, making them more positive and charged up.
• Feeling gratitude every day increased the Positive emotions and in turn led to more tranquillity and less chaos for the participants, especially in the VUCA world we are living in today.
• Practicing gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from anger and resentment to frustration and regret. A lot of people decided to empower themselves with the right tools to Forgive people who had hurt them in the past, removing long-held grudges and making space for more positive things to take that space and eventually improving their mental health in a holistic sense.
• Gratitude taught each participant to Let Go of what is not working for us and move on to greener pastures. When you start counting the things that are blessings in your life, you also realize that you are holding on to so many things that just create clutter, imbalance and don't serve you in the present or in the long run.
Letting Go was a tremendous benefit of this practice for the participants, based on the feedback.
• The everyday things that we take for granted - the air we breathe, the steps we take, the food we eat, the sights we see, the people who help us, our loved ones, the reflection we see in the mirror every day... all became a part of the abundance we started recognizing.
• For some it was about digging into every aspect of their life, with gratitude and this helped people acknowledge the goodness in their lives and look for the lessons from negative experiences - which came from an acceptance of what was and what currently is.
• Finally, people in the group felt greater happiness, a sense of calm, and felt strong enough to handle anything life throws at them. For some new opportunities, ideas and inspiration struck as epiphanies, which helped them move to the next level.
I can go on but here is the sum of it - the benefits and learnings are endless and life-long, once you begin and stick to practising gratitude!
Are Grateful People Healthier?
Overall mental and physical health enhancements are seen in the lives of those who practise gratitude and of course, there are multiple accounts and documentaries on those who have been even able to heal from terminal diseases through effective practice of gratitude, along with a healthy lifestyle!
Over the past few years, Kavitha says that she has discovered the benefits of practising and making Gratitude a way of life, every single day. 'It has brought a certain amount of contentment and peace into my life,' she says.
While in the beginning, what had felt like a "purposeful practice", over time it has become a "positive daily ritual/habit" that comes as naturally as breathing. Kavitha feels that it is one of the most overlooked tools for creating instant Happiness in our lives.
If I were to objectively list things out, practising Gratitude has helped me-
- To live in the present moment and celebrate the moments that make up every day.
- To deal with negative or toxic situations much more easily and convert them to positive situations for me to learn from. Believe me, it's hard (can I say impossible?) to feel Negative and Grateful at the same time!
- In a pandemic, to stay calm and cool during the worst of stress. I believe that gratitude has given me a different perspective on dealing with uncertainty and trauma, which surely is an asset in troubling times.
On asking how an act of gratitude can positively impact our surroundings, Kavitha says, 'With no frills or fancies, let me put it this way: Gratitude is POWERFUL. It is not loud, it is not in your face, it's a humble, deep emotion that puts you in a very positive and accepting state of mind. It improves general well-being, increases reliance, makes people more empathetic, adjusting, strengthens social relationships ... all leading to a happier community of people. Gratitude assures us that in the midst of chaos and stress, we can still find the good and learn to work with each other more amicably.'
Gratitude is an inner light, it's like an antidote to negative emotions so spread the light as far as you can, making Gratitude a habit that others can imbibe. It reinforces the GOOD that exists in the Universe and without a doubt, if we all practice gratitude more regularly, the world will be a better place to live in!