We live in a time and place of material things. When does the new iPhone come out? What can I buy with my birthday money? At what point did it become so important to have useless, nonessential stuff? How can we revert back to more thankful and grateful individuals? Brother David Stiendl-Rast is somewhat of an expert on the art of grateful living. He says that, “Ninety-nine percent of the time we have an opportunity to be grateful for something. We just don’t notice it. We go through our days in a daze”.
What are some ways that you can begin to live every moment gratefully?
If you never do anything to understand how others live, you may just go through life unaware. So one must inform themselves if they are to live gratefully. There are a couple of great ways to do so. Those things are to: travel, research and compare.
When you travel, go to a third world country, do a service project or something fulfilling so as to get the most out of it. When you venture to a third world country and see how the people there value things differently, it will give you a greater appreciation of what you have.
*(For affordable service-learning experiences visit: www.n2nvision.com. N2N Vision Inc. offers service trips to various locations throughout Central America and one service trip to Eastern KY).*
Traveling is expensive. If you’re not able to do it, you could always research how the other side lives, and learn that way. There are plenty of resources out there like blogs, YouTube videos, etc. that offer great information on such things. Literally go to GOOGLE and type in: “third world living” and prepare to be amazed by what you see.
Once you’ve traveled and/or researched, you need to compare how those people live to yourself. What is it about their life that makes them so much happier? In traveling to Guatemala twice, I found myself coming home both times with the realization that material things just do not matter down there, rather they cherish just the opportunity to be alive. Once you’ve seen the world through an orphan who has no earthly possessions but a few pairs of clothes, you realize that the real treasures in life are your family, your friends, and the fact that you are blessed to have meals daily.
Think back to a time of personal struggle
Has there ever been a time where you felt like you were at rock bottom? Maybe there was a death in your family. Maybe you lost your job and had no idea where your next paycheck would come from. Think back to times like this, and that will help you realize how much better life gets once you get past the tough times.
Leave Signs for Yourself
Some people need constant reminders in their life to remind them how blessed and fortunate they are. Leave signs in your life to give yourself that boost of positive energy you may need. Elaborate? SURE! Take a sticky note and leave a smiley face on your computer screen, car steering wheel, or closet where your clothes are, that way every time you get to your computer, hop in your car, or pick out a new outfit for the day, you’re reminded how fortunate you are to even be able to use a computer, drive or wear a new pair of clothes each day. Just stopping and reflecting on your gratitude will help reinforce the lifestyle of living gratefully. Set an alarm on your phone every 2-4 hours throughout the day, and take 10 minutes to write down everything positive that happened within those 2-4 hours. You’ll be surprised at how much your own positive vibes will begin to take over your attitudes.
Another great way to come to gratitude is to give back to the community. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, hospital or an impoverished area in your community. Along with the first point, once you see how much people who “have less” value the few things that they do have, your eyes will be opened to an appreciation that you’ve never felt before. Seeing people that are struggling just to survive still be happy, content and loving – it’s life-changing.
Live out these four steps and you will begin to come to a greater self-actualization than you’ve ever had in your entire life. People will enjoy being around you more, and you will also be happier with yourself.
This blog was inspired by the TED TALK, Want to be Happy? Be Grateful by Brother David Steindl-Rast:
Post by Kyle Craven – Follow him on Twitter! @