Eimear Hutchinson on practicing gratitude every day

Not one for journaling, EIMEAR HUTCHINSON says that doesn’t stop her from practicing the art of gratitude every day - and she’s all the better for it, she says
Eimear Hutchinson on practicing gratitude every day

Keeping a gratitude diary may not be for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop thinking about what you are grateful for every day. Picture: Stock

OVER the last few years, there has been an influx of the practise of journaling.

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s the idea that you use a journal or notebook to write down goals, manifest dreams, and to make lists of things you are grateful for. Much and all as I respect the idea, I don’t have time for it on a daily basis but, like a lot of things, you can take elements and make them work for you. The notion of practising gratitude really appealed to me, so it is something I do every single day now and I am all the better for it.

There is no escaping the bad news stories we hear on the radio every day, or the bad news most of us have gotten about a friend or family member at some point in time. If sorrow hasn’t visited your door, we all know we are only one bad decision (ours or somebody else’s), one diagnosis, or one accident away from our worlds being changed irrevocably.

For me, one of the worst things that could happen in that instant is that I must live with the thought that I wasn’t grateful for what I had when I had it.

I don’t want this article to sound morbid, but the more I hear about the foreboding future of difficulty that lies ahead for all of us, I think gratitude, and the ability to be grateful for what we have, is something that we may all need to get good at.

There is lots of research out there to show that people who practise gratitude are more likely to be able to bounce back from whatever trials and tribulations life throws at them and to be able to weather the storms that approach. It makes sense, if you take a few moments each day to focus on whatever good there is in the day, it can only but lift your spirit and improve your mood.

I am also keenly aware that gratitude comes easier to some than it does to others. It is important that we measure gratitude not against others, but rather we set our own internal markers for it.

Gratitude in its very essence is acknowledging the good you have in your life, not the good in anyone else’s. It is excellent practice to internalise your own gratefulness because those that compare themselves to others, whether positively or negatively, will only end up either smug or jealous and neither of those are desirable traits.

I am lucky enough to be able to practise gratitude on my walk with the dog every day, it’s become a habit I look forward to. I am out in the fresh air, around nature, I have no music or podcast on, I just listen to the birds and the rustle of the trees overheard. I am grateful I am healthy enough to be able to walk him with a lightness in my step, grateful we have such a lively dog, grateful my four children are happy in their schools, grateful all six of us are healthy, grateful my husband is happy in his job, grateful for the home we have, grateful for our friends locally that continually offer us support, and grateful for our families who, albeit far away, are healthy and happy themselves. I have a lot to be grateful for.

It is a wonderful skill to teach children too, I often try and finish off the day by asking the girls what they are grateful for. It teaches them from a young age to appreciate what they have and gets them to focus on something positive and uplifting before they close their eyes.

It will help build resilience within their characters so that, even on the hard days they can still find something to be grateful for, and they are firm in the knowledge that there is something good in every day.

I was in the queue for school today waiting to collect one of the girls and every day there is the most joyful man there at the same time as me. He is almost 80 and someone asked him today how he was, he said he was great because any day he can throw his legs out of bed and get up is a day to celebrate. He is grateful for the simple gift of life.

If you get a chance some time today or this week, try to give a few minutes to focusing on the good things in your life.

It could be as simple as being grateful to be able to sit down for a few minutes and have a hot cup of coffee. You might think back to a time when times were tough, and if today things aren’t as difficult you have a lot of be grateful for.

If you are grateful for what you have, you will always have enough, but if you focus on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.

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