It’s so easy to take things for granted. We almost seem built to do it – wired to see the danger over the delight. To spot the problem floating on a sea of stuff that’s working.

When this happens, all the enriching, joyful, sustaining things in your life – however fleeting they may be just now – get backgrounded. Lost.

Instead, your foreground is filled with the close-up perspective of the things that bring pain and difficulties. And you get to feel all the anxiety and worry attached to them.

Can you relate to that?

What would happen if you could reverse the flow for a moment? Move the foreground into the background, and the background forward? What if you could deliberately set the inspiring and rejuvenating stuff up front for a moment? Let your mind and body remember them, and feel the relief they bring?

Well, you can…

And one of the simplest ways to do it is to harness the power of gratitude.

Simply noticing the ‘good’ stuff in your life, and feeling deliberately thankful for them, underpins the whole movement of positive psychology.

It only takes a moment. And it brings profound results. For it reconnects you to the things you value in your life – the things that make it all worthwhile. It can fill you up, even at your emptiest moments.

So what might you have to be thankful for, especially at times when challenges seem all around you?

  • Maybe certain friendships or relationships? (with people or with pets).
  • Or maybe aspects of your health or physicality, and how you express it?
  • Or the pleasure and escape of a good book?
  • Or the flow of creativity, wherever you like to dip into it?
  • Maybe the way the light streams through the trees in your street in the mornings and starts your day off shining?
  • Or that the colour of the sky always seems to be adding to its palette – and adding to yours?
  • Or that you live in a world that has created something like the Internet, and the ways it can enrich your day?

Countless ‘little’ things that might be easy to overlook.
What else might there be…?

Recently, I spent a week in Bali and one of the things that struck me there were the vast number of offerings scattered about the streets (like the ones in this photo).

They were everywhere.

Offerings of thanks and of hope.

And along with them went countless ceremonies and rituals giving thanks for things like food and the abundance of the land. Maybe we in the western world are just cottoning on to the richness of that. Of simply feeling thankful…

So this gratitude stuff can be given fancy names (like positive psychology). Or special techniques. But maybe it’s actually pretty simple.

Maybe it’s just about noticing the (often) forgotten details that make up our lives behind the scenes, and really celebrating them.

Truly living them with conscious intent rather than letting them slip away or be drowned out by the problems at hand (however large they might loom just now).

And not taking the ‘good’ for granted.


Photos and text copyright: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.