Yoga teaches us about the connection of our body and mind. The power of our thoughts, how we see the world and how we view our circumstances often determines the degree to which we’ll enjoy life.
I’ve known people who have gone through harrowing circumstances or gotten by on minimal means, yet they lead lives of joy, uplifting others everywhere they go. I’ve also known people who are blessed by common standards — good health, great financial wealth — and they are terse, discontent and sometimes downright miserable. One of the most significant differences between these two kinds of people is gratitude.
Gratitude is an empowering demonstration of an abundance mentality — the concept that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody, and the only mentality that leads to happiness.
Science backs this up. According to a 2009 study published in the Cerebral Cortex journal, showing gratitude or generosity stimulates the hypothalamus (the portion of the brain that manages stress) and the ventral tegmental area (the portion of the brain that produces the sensation of pleasure).
Furthermore, in a 2003 study researchers broke participants into two groups — one group assigned with the task of keeping a short weekly list of the things they were grateful for, while the other group listed inconveniences or everyday events. Ten weeks later, the first group enjoyed significantly higher life satisfaction than the other.
So we know the fact, the benefits but how can we practice to amplify gratitude?
· First, at this very minute, identify three things for which you are grateful. Be specific. They might be things as simple as your family, your job, your health, or even the wonders of technology.
· Second, expand your thinking about the three things you just wrote. Go a level deeper and identify what you’re grateful for about each of them. If you noted gratitude for your family, for example, maybe the level deeper is the love and support you feel from them when you come home from a hard day at work. If you noted your job, it could be your gratitude for being able to support and take care of your family.
· In the third step, broaden your thinking even further. Fine tune and analyze more clearly the things you identified in the first step, and amplified in the second. For example, feeling gratitude for your family and then amplifying those feelings might lead you to better understand exactly why you feel that love from and for your family, and how you share it with each other. The ‘job’ example might clarify the reason why you feel that way about your work. Maybe it’s due to the gratitude for the professional development you received that is leading you to a stronger sense of self-worth and self-reliance. Now ponder and internalize the gratitude you feel for each of the three things you have identified.
It's simple, yet effective. We often forget to recognize and embrace the abundance that surrounds us every day, in every aspect of our lives. This leads us to a life of scarcity, always waiting to be happy in the future.
I highly recommend take the time on a regular basis to amplify your gratitude, just three things at a time.
A little gratitude goes a long way towards being happy today.