By Eva van der Graaf
If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings
These are the lyrics of one of my favorite songs in the movie ‘White Christmas’. “Count your blessings instead of sheep” is what they sing and I believe the message is to develop an attitude of gratitude. Peace, joy and happiness all start somewhere, they are rooted in gratitude.
Practicing gratitude starts with knowing its enemies:
Water your flowers, not your weeds
Some people are pessimistic by default, their focus goes to the negative. This can only change if the focus changes. Everything and everyone craves energy but you choose who or what to give it to and from whom or what you receive it. Choose to give and receive positive energy to/from the things that float your boat and not the things that sink it! This will help to shift from pessimism to optimism.
Take a break
Stress often stems from racing through life. To experience gratitude, we need to stop for a minute and simply be aware. Being grateful is actually just that: being. It encompasses the act of being in a conscious state which allows you to experience to a deeper extent. In our current western environment I feel everyone seems so focused on the future and craves a constant sense of security; we only let ourselves experience gratitude and move forward once everything has been double checked and signed, only then have have we earned the opportunity to rest. But gratitude is not something you earn, nor is it something that lasts forever. Gratitude can happen at any time, and often these moments are quick snippets that you can’t pin down. Gratitude is not a physical thing and can never be taken away from you.
Another way gratitude gets clouded is when you start comparing. As the old saying goes, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. You either end up devaluing yourself or someone else. When you lose the ability to see what you have, you gain the urge to need. You start wanting what other people have while you might not really need it in the first place. We don’t have everything but we don’t have to have everything to be thankful!
Gratitude is a vision, one that I feel everyone should incorporate into their life. Some send up a thank you prayer, some make gratitude lists, whilst others just have a moment in the shower when they stop and think about what they are grateful for. It doesn’t matter the method, as long as you give it energy. Because nothing creates better vibes than an attitude of gratitude.
Eva van der Graaf. Born in The Netherlands. Raised in Africa. MSc WUR. Owner of WritingBy. Hippie at Heart. Photography by @happyhippyfoodie