Gratitude is the fairest blossom that springs from the soul.
~Henry Ward Beecher
Years ago I heard a speaker talk about his method of showing gratitude to the world as he woke up each morning. Before he got out of bed, he spent several moments thinking of all of the things he was grateful for—the warm blanket that covered him, the soft pillow beneath his head, the light that shined through the blinds, the fact that he had a roof over his head, the promise of electricity when he flipped the light switch, the gas in his car that would enable him to go to work, the water he could splash on his face, the towel he used to dry off, the toothbrush he used each morning, the air he breathed as he left his house… and so on. His example of how to show gratitude has stuck with me all of these years and I use it often when I need to get back to sleep or if something has upset me and I need to “right” my mood.
Gratitude is one of the soul’s most important elixirs. Because joy and contentment are the inner self’s most natural states, giving thanks for even the simplest of things can help your innermost ally agree with the statement, “It is well with my soul.”
Famous poet, Rumi, said “Gratitude is the wine of the soul. Go on. Get drunk!” It is true that giving thanks can feel intoxicating, filling you with joy and elation. In fact, when we express gratitude and/or receive it in return, our brain actually releases both dopamine and serotonin—neurotransmitters that are crucial in enhancing our mood. This neurochemical reaction occurs immediately after giving or receiving thanks. Simply put, gratitude both boosts and balances our soul.
Since graduate school, I’ve started my nightly ritual by noting at least five things from the day for which I am grateful. As soon as I pick up my toothbrush, I start this process. Each night ends on a happy or content note and I can usually quickly drift off to sleep. If I wake up at night, I often use the method mentioned at the beginning of the article to quiet my mind so I can drift off again. Even if I don’t fall back to sleep, I still start my day on a positive note.
Included in my nightly ritual is at least one thing that I thank myself for from the day. I may show gratitude that I invested in my own well-being by going for a walk, eating something healthy, or just relaxing. Or I may give thanks for cutting myself some slack when I make a mistake. When we are kind and gracious to our soul, it heals, grows, and thrives.
How can you show more gratitude toward the world around you? How can you be more grateful for the world within?
Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.
~ Amy Collette