This post is a collaboration post with Chia Samson, we chose the topic of gratitude and have both shared our experiences with gratitude and how we practice gratitude in our day to day lives. Check out Chia’s post The Gratitude Attitude With Elina Passant
If I’m honest gratitude is something I really struggle with and when Chia suggested it for the collab I didn’t know if I’d be able to write about the subject because I didn’t think I really practised gratitude. I didn’t actively write daily gratitude lists and anything else commonly associated with practicing gratitude.
After I got sick I realised everything I had taken for granted like being able to eat my favourite food, hanging out with friends and be able to do school work had been taken away in a blink of an eye. And replaced with up each day feeling extremely sick and in a huge amount of pain. Gratitude had become a word I hated because once I got sick it was all i heard – “you should be grateful for the things you can do”, “some people can’t even walk or talk”. I was angry at the world and angry at my own body for betraying me and causing the pain and illness. I didn’t have anything to be grateful for because everything good had been ripped away from me.
At the time I didn’t realise that it would be the one thing that actually would get me out of the negative spiral and would continue to do so. Everyone telling me to focus on it were just trying to help me and get through to me but I just wasn’t ready. It was easy for me to focus on all the things my illness has stolen from me as I lost the majority of my teenage years because of it. But doing that would only make me more miserable.
Gratitude is such a powerful tool but can often be overpowered by the guilt and past memories you associate it with. Growing up your always told to be grateful for what you have because there are so many people that are less fortunate and that you shouldn’t be complaining about the zucchini on your plate instead be grateful you have food on the table. Gratitude always reminds me of when I was fortunate enough to go to Bali when i was younger and we had lunch at a little cafe overlooking the rice fields. I had ordered a sandwich and it was awful and just tasted off, I remember being told to be grateful and to eat it because all of the people working in the rice fields would do anything to have my sandwich. So in classic kid fashion I suggested i went down and gave my sandwich to the workers. I ended up getting food poisoning from that sandwich, but that’s beside the point. Travelling to Bali really opened my eyes at a young age. I saw where many kids my age were living, begging for money in the streets and traffic and the extremely contaminated water that was there only place to wash. I realised how fortunate i really was. Living in a first world country it’s so easy to take things for granted, especially when most things revolve around money and who has the latest shiny new thing.
I think the problem with how gratitude is taught or focused on is the guilt that comes with it. I’m pretty sure everyone can remember being told by their parents about the kids in Africa who are starving and would love your meal or situations similar. It makes you feel guilty for feeling upset or not liking something and a lot of the time will cause you to be angry as it feels as though your situation is being diminished. This may make you realise how fortunate you are but it dose not teach true gratitude. Gratitude is the one thing that gets me through my hardest days (a sentence I swore I would never say) not because of how fortunate I am but because it brings me happiness and shows that even my hardest days have even the smallest moment of joy within it, that other wise would be diminished. I found a way to practice gratitude that suited my life and made me happy instead of feeling like a chore. Don’t get me wrong through I definitely haven’t mastered gratitude yet. I still struggle to not fall down that negative spiral or roll my eyes when my Mum reminds me to be grateful for the things I still can do, I have a long way to go until then. But there are some simple additions I have made to my everyday life and thought process that really help me and maybe they will help you to…
LOOKING FOR THE POSITIVE IN THE NEGATIVE
I try to find the good in every situation. No matter how horrible a day or situation there is always even the tiniest silver lining within it. I may be extremely ill and miss out on a lot because of it, but its given me some amazing friends, my blog, being a global brand leader for a charity i love and a passion to put my experiences towards something to help others. Had I not got sick none of that would have happened, so I chose to focus on that instead, each time I catch myself in a negative spiral I try to come up with as many positives that have come from that situation and focus on having gratitude for them instead.
I used to try and write daily lists of what I’m grateful for but I found I never stuck to it. Instead now I practice gratitude by keeping a daily highlight tracker in my health journal, each day i have to find one good thing I’m grateful to have experienced even if its as simple as watching the stars at night. I love getting to look back on an especially challenging week and see all the amazing moments that happened as well. Doing that makes the rough days not seem so bad, instead of looking back and remembering all the bad i have a visual representation of all the good that happened within it.
I love capturing memories whether through writing, film or photography. My notes section, phone photo library and SD card are always full. Writing especially for me is a big way I capture gratitude, things like writing about my adopted nana’s advice is super special for me as I can literally hear her saying it to me as I write and reminds me how special it was having her in my life. I also worry with my memory issues I will forget things, so this way I can always easily look back on all of the things I have been fortunate enough to experience and remember how I was feeling in that moment or time. My Mum has always been big on creating great experiences within the bad times so that we always had something good to focus on instead. They are always my favourite memories to reminisce on.
We live in such a fast paced world that is heavily reliant on social media and technology. It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s going on in the world that your forget to take notice of what’s truly going on in your own little world. Let me ask you when was the last time you went for a walk, ate a meal or worked on a project/hobby without a movie, tv show, podcast, YouTube video or music playing in the background? I know the first time I asked myself this it took me a while to think of the last time, which was pretty scary. When we are so caught up in everyone else’s lives, everything they are doing/ achieving and their thoughts we forget about our own and just end up comparing our lives to others. I now make a conservative effort to do at least switch off once a day, I’ve been doing this recently when we take our dogs for a walk along the beach each night. There truly is nothing better than sitting on the beach and just watching the waves roll in, that itself is something I am very grateful to get to do. I take so much more notice to all the little things around me like the birds singing, the bush area we go through to get there, it truly does feel more magical when I’m just alone with my thoughts. Everything feels more special when you don’t have background noise cutting off some of your senses.
Make sure you go and check out Chia’s post here, She is sharing about her own ways she practises gratitude as well as choosing gratitude over negativity. And go and show her some love because her blog is absolutely amazing and Chia is just the sweetest human being!
– How do you practice gratitude in your day to day life and is it something you have or do struggle with? Comment down below, I’d love to know! Xx