The Transformative Power of Gratitude: A Journey Within

In the fast-paced hustle of modern society, where stress and anxiety seem to lurk around every corner, it’s easy to lose sight of life’s simple blessings. 

We get upset when a train is late and we forget how great it actually is to have this mode of transportation at all. We focus on the clouds rather than the vast blue sky behind them and we often miss the profound beauty hidden within everyday life’s hiccups.

But amidst all the things that upset us and cause us discomfort, there is a truly timeless practice that has the power to bring us back to center: Gratitude. 

In this blog post, we take a journey into the heart of gratitude and explore its impact on our well-being, our relationships, and our sense of fulfilment.

Understanding Gratitude

Gratitude, or “kṛtajñatā” in Sanskrit, is the art of recognizing and appreciating the richness in our lives. It is about cultivating an attitude of gratitude, even in the face of adversity. 

In fact, gratitude can serve as a powerful antidote to the negative thoughts, self-talk or interactions we all are confronted with in our everyday lives. 

The principle is very simple: when we practice gratitude, we intentionally shift our focus away from scarcity and we direct it towards abundance, whatever that might mean in a given moment. 

For instance, when we are stressed by the workload we just received from our boss (which translates in scarcity of time for ourself or time to rest), we can intentionally focus on the fact that we have a job (abundance of professional security) or maybe that we have a healthy body we can exercise even in between tasks (abundance of health and an endless supply of dopamine).

Gratitude_Meaning_Focus_Abundance

By practicing gratitude, in other words, we become more receptive to a world of opportunity and blessings, a world where we are not immune to lows, but where we always have a switch we can flip to bring abundance back into our life. 

Research in the field of positive psychology has shown that gratitude is closely linked to greater happiness, better mental health and increased resilience. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology*, people who regularly practice gratitude experience higher levels of positive emotions and overall life satisfaction.

Gratitude_meaning

The Gift of Gratitude

In a world where instant gratification and materialism rule the day, the practice of gratitude can offer a much needed release. Gratitude reminds us to pause, reflect, detach from the toxic cycles of external validation and enjoy the richness of each moment, inclusive of all circumstances. 

Gratitude_Chakra

According to UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center*, gratitude is linked to stronger relationships, better physical health and greater resilience in the face of adversity.

Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies** and the Journal Spektrum *** found that people who regularly show gratitude are more likely to engage in pro-social behaviours and have more empathy towards another.

In times marked by division and discord, cultivating gratitude can serve as a powerful catalyst to build bridges and foster a sense of unity within our communities.

Sharing Gratitude

Just as a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle, sharing gratitude is a gift that enriches both the giver and the receiver. Whether through a heartfelt thank-you note, a random act of kindness, or a simple expression of appreciation, the act of sharing gratitude has the power to uplift spirits and strengthen bonds, way beyond our immediate surroundings.

By fostering a culture of gratitude within our yoga community for instance, we create a ripple effect of positivity that extends far beyond the studio walls into our families, circles of friends or workplaces.

Gratitude_ripple_effect

How to grow Gratitude

Here are some practical tips inspired by the ancient wisdom of yoga:

  • Practice Mindfulness: Cultivate awareness of the present moment through practices such as meditation, pranayama (breathwork), and mindful movement. A mindful presence in the here and now is our one, true foundation.
  • Keep a Gratitude Journal: Set aside a few minutes each day to reflect on the things you’re grateful for. Write them down in a journal or simply offer them up silently in your heart. As the Bhagavad Gita teaches us, “कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन” (karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana) – You have the right to perform your actions, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.
  • Practice Generosity: Cultivate a spirit of giving and generosity towards others. Whether it’s volunteering your time, sharing your resources, or simply offering a listening ear, acts of kindness can deepen our sense of gratitude and interconnectedness.
  • Count Your Blessings: Instead of focusing on what’s lacking in your life, shift your attention to the abundance that surrounds you. Take stock of the blessings—big and small—that enrich your life each day.
Gratitude_count_your_blessings

Gratitude is a timeless practice that has the power to transform our lives from the inside out. As we cultivate a heart of thankfulness, we awaken to the beauty and abundance that permeate every aspect of our existence. 

Let us embark on this journey of gratitude together, embracing each moment with open arms and grateful hearts.

Text by Tanja Ivancan
Illustrations by Pietro Furloni 

References

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/pdfs/GratitudePDFs/6Emmons-BlessingsBurdens.pdf 
** https://link.springer.com/journal/10902 
*** https://www.spektrum.de/news/positive-psychologie-sei-dankbar/1774092 

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This article is part of the „Yoga Talk“ series where our teachers share their journey in yoga from a personal & intimate perspective. 

Here you find all the „Yoga Talk“ articles.

 

 

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