Gratitude and Contentment for Personal Growth

This week I learned that gratitude is my greatest asset. That I practice my gratitude like a pro-gratitude-loving ninja. That I am a highly skilled ‘gratitudist’. Allow me to explain.

Recently I attended workshop on self-care for health professionals and had the opportunity to learn a great deal about strategies to maximise wellbeing both at work and at home. I love that kind of stuff. I love everything touchy-feely about self-care and wellbeing, but I embrace the practical tips as much as the spiritual aspect. Learning and talking about ways to enhance the way we live just makes sense to me.

After the workshop, we were sent links to wellbeing resources and surveys to promote self-discovery. I took one of the surveys – the Values in Action Strengths Survey (link at the end of this post) – and discovered that gratitude is my greatest personal strength (followed closely by ‘an appreciation of beauty and excellence’ – fancy that! Makes sense – I’m always the person who holds up traffic admiring the beauty of everything around me and ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the finer details of loveliness this world holds).

I have always erred on the side of seeing the value in what I have, but the results of this survey probably took me by surprise. If I had taken this survey five years ago, I’m sure the results would have been quite different. I wasn’t quite the gratitude ninja then that I am now. I certainly feel that my ‘gratitude attitude’ has grown strong in the last few years thanks to my very deliberate actions in creating more simplicity and having a focus on owning less.  My gratitude muscles have been strengthened because of a very intentional focus on the concept of ‘enough’.

As I have explored in previous posts, minimalism has provided an awesome vehicle for bringing my most important things into sharp focus. These things include my most treasured loved ones (human and fur varieties), my priorities, my values, my passions and my goals. I have found that once I started to make choices that allowed my most important things to be very deliberately reflected in some aspect of every day, I was able to see very clearly that I have so much. Minimalism has strengthened my gratitude muscle because it has enabled me to stop vapidly pursuing the superfluous and to find daily contentment in what I have.

Contentment is one of those words that probably generates different images and feelings for different people. For me it is one of those near-perfect words because of the very variety it promotes – contentment is an internal feeling and a very personal experience. What brings one person contentment just won’t do it for another person. That is the normal and beautiful life experience. However, when contentment is reached within a person, the wave of relief, of calm, of joy and of peace that simultaneously flows from it is a revelation (or at least, it has been for me).

I have found immense calm, peace and satisfaction from identifying that I have enough, I do enough, and I am enough. Cliché as it sounds – it is true for me. And maybe for you. Like anyone I have goals and ambitions that I pursue, but I have found that by cultivating contentment in what I have already (possessions, skills and circumstances-wise), I immediately cultivate more gratitude. Contentment and gratitude walk hand in hand in our home. It is a mindset and a practice that takes deliberate focus sometimes, but it does start to flow more easily when practiced regularly. And it is not always easy to maintain contentment – in a world trying relentlessly and though every media possible to sell you goods and services that, as a whole, target your varying degrees of personal discontent – well, it takes work.

By no means is my life rosy at all points. But I choose to be grateful for the good moments (extra grateful), the dodgy moments, the sad ones, the frustrating ones and the dull ones. I am learning to ‘replace’ dodgy thoughts with a total reframing of reality and I’m a lot happier day to day (read: not perfect, happier). As a result, I’m not led to pursue things that would act as a pacifier to discontent (read: buying stuff).

I know some people who journal gratitude, say it aloud, write about it and talk about it. I often just think about it.

Some current things I am grateful for:

  • I have a home that is my safe place and my nest – it is a place my most beloved live.
  • I am employed and have the ability to provide more than adequately for abovementioned beloveds.
  • I am well supported and loved by a network of treasured friends and have a grand time sharing moments and making memories with them.
  • I have all of my faculties (on most days!) and can write and express myself authentically.
  • I have water (and wine) to drink (hydration is clearly vital).
  • I live in a country that makes me feel safe. I can go to the beach whenever I want. I can visit the mountains. I can and do travel freely and this brings me immense happiness.

None of my happiness comes from owning. I am grateful to experience things that are mostly very free. As a result, my yearnings are very few these days. And what I do yearn for is covered under ‘goals, values and priorities’ and are naturally in my personal pipeline because I make it so. The practice of gratitude comes from allowing the wave of contentment with what you already have to wash over you and fill your bucket, warm your heart and soothe your soul.

What are you most grateful for and how do you practice ninja gratitude? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear from you. Until next time – simplify, focus, pursue and count your blessings.

Sarah

P.S. Take the free Values in Action survey yourself here and discover your character strengths!

 

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