Grace is found in the chalice of gratitude. — anon
The Dalai Lama said, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” Now neuroscience is showing that you can change your brain and raise your energy levels with a few daily practices. One of the simplest yet most powerful ways is to think of five things each day for which you are grateful.
This practice will literally sprout new pathways in your brain. If you keep practicing, those pathways become stronger, wider, like highways. The effect is that it opens your heart and you feel radiant.
Just as it takes 21 days to get a training effect from physical exercise, this practice may take three weeks to cement those neural pathways, especially if you”ve been unhappy or down. But you’ll likely notice an effect right away.
- Try writing down the five things before sleep. It will enhance your dreams.
- After one week, notice how it becomes easier to do. Try it while you are driving, or indoors as you gaze outside a window. Like a power workout that builds strength, this gratitude practice is building and strengthening happiness pathways in your brain.
- During the second week, notice how energy levels rise as your brain begins playing back your blessings throughout the day.
- By the third week, your gratitude consciousness has expanded. You start to feel blessed much of the time. And notice if you feel more open-hearted.
- The possibilities are far-reaching. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk, writes in Peace in Every Breath, of living in gratitude twenty-four hours a day. Starting first thing in the morning, he writes of the joy you can feel as you wash your face when you realize the gift of water flowing into your house. Water flows from high mountain sources. Water runs deep in the the Earth. Miraculously, water comes to us. I am filled with gratitude. The end result of twenty-four hour gratitude, writes Thay, is an enlightened life filled with blessings.
- We all know that life can be filled with stressors and pain. This exercise is not meant to repress the painful feelings, since we need to be open to all that is within us. But too often we get stuck on what is wrong in our lives and fail to see the blessings that literally saturate our daily existence. Even the stressors can be gifts if we look for the hidden meaning they hold. By finding the blessings shining upon you throughout the day, you burn off the clouds around your mind, and see the clear azure blue skies of your life.
For those who read the Tarot, try this insightful Gratitude Reading:
- Take a minute to center yourself. Take some relaxing breaths. Raise your energy by giving thanks for your life”s gifts.
- Now throw five cards: four for the greatest gifts of your life, and one for the greatest gift of your future.
- Like a veil lifting, the truth of your existence may be revealed.