I’ve talked before about seeking happiness, how it’s fleeting and isn’t sustainable and how we should seek contentment instead.
Contentment is the knowledge that things are ok, that although they could be better, they are, in the moment, pretty good.
One of the biggest ways to find contentment is through expressing gratitude and being thankful.
A lot of people have trouble with this though so I figured I’d tell you about my favorite ways of being grateful.
You can be grateful for any number of things but it helps to focus on the things you normally overlook and take for granted. These can be friends, family, who will always stick by your side no matter what, work opportunities that make things a little easier, or simple things like a roof over your head, a bed to sleep in, a comfortable couch to veg out on or just simply running water. These are all things we don’t think much about but that go a long long way in making us comfortable.
How do you express gratitude for these things though? The simplest way is just being cognizant of them. This could mean writing them down in a notebook or on your computer.
Sitting with the express intent of thinking about the things that make you content and comfortable is a great way of reducing stress as well. Being conscious of these simple things, the things we overlook, can make the fog of a relatively crappy day lift.
If you’re aware of the ways that things are good, you can see that life, with all its complications and frustrations has its good parts, specifically the parts that make you feel whole.
Making a list of things you’re grateful for is great but my favorite way of being grateful is thanking God, Buddha, The Universe, whoever for the things that make life worth living. You don’t have to be religious in any way to thank the great beyond for the things that have come into your life. Try when you lay down to sleep, as you’re lying there looking at the shadows on the wall just say “Thank you for…” and then list out the things you’re grateful for. Try to dig deep if you have to the things you normally wouldn’t think about. This can ease a lot of the anxiety you have when you’re trying to sleep and it can put things in perspective and lull you into a comfortable sleep.
I’ve heard it reported in studies about schoolwork and job skills that sleep is a great way to absorb things you learned the day before. Think about what you’d be absorbing if you expressed gratitude right before you fell asleep.
Either way is great for getting a handle on the things you take for granted and they can show you that, despite the things you’re having difficulty with, life is still pretty good.
I know I get bogged down all to often about the idea that things aren’t going the way I want them to or that things aren’t happening fast enough. Being grateful lessens that though. It goes a long way in easing existential dread and ennui and I only wish I could practice it more.
I think we could all do with a little more gratitude in our lives.