I have found that one of the blessings of aging is the tendency to be more grateful for what one has in life, small or big. And it is in gratitude that one can find true contentment.
I enjoyed reaching my 50th surrounded by family and very close friends. Most importantly, both my parents were there to celebrate that milestone with me.
There are many things we take for granted in our younger years when we are full of life, strength, and vigour. But as those years pass, and they do pass quickly, one cannot help but reflect on the important things in life. Having family and close friends around is surely one of those blessings.
Some analysts have argued that as we grow up, we become ungrateful and do not see the blessings in life. We focus all our energies and attention on finding out what we lack. Yet proof exists that the more we focus on scarcity, the more we tend to attract it.
In an interesting article titled “The Effect of Gratitude on Productivity” the writer says: “Research has shown that through our thoughts and emotions, we emit powerful signals; these signals have the ability to attract signals of the same frequency.” In other words, our positive signals will attract all other positive signals and same goes true for negative signals.
Whenever we are being ungrateful, we are in the negative state of mind and allowing self-defeating thoughts to emit all sorts of negative energy from us. These include thoughts such as, ‘I never seem to have enough money’ or ‘I can never be healthy’. This will attract more negative energy.
Ultimately, we will end up becoming a black hole of despair and getting what we do not want. All the worries, arguments and frustration lead to more of the same. Considering all of this, if we want to attract more signals of what we desire to experience, for example, peace, joy, harmony, ease, prosperity, etc., then why not choose our thoughts consciously and carefully? The more you focus on what you have in life, the more you will attract it. In other words, the more grateful you become, the more God will bless you.
Robert A. Emmons from the University of California and Davis and Micheal E McCullogh from the University of Miami conducted a long-term research project designed to study the effects of gratitude. Here are some of their findings:
· In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis, exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared with those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.
· Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress towards important personal goals over a two-month period compared with subjects in the other experimental conditions.
· Grateful people reported higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress.
This is a readymade formula for attracting more of what you want in life.
There is a verse in the Holy Quran which reminds us, “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you (in favour)…”
The author adds: “Gratitude helps us make the shift. Consequently, we are able to attract more good, more love, more joy, more money, as well as better health and blissful relationships. Gratitude is one of the easiest and most frequently used methods to alter the signals one is emitting. What we need to master is the attitude of gratitude – the attitude of appreciating everything in life.”
And so I am grateful to have reached 50, enjoying good health, family and close friends. An old friend reminded me of something very valuable – “human beings must be encouraged to recognize the value of worshipping the Creator and not the created if they wish to live the abundant life that flows from Him. He is limitless. The created is limited. He is love, wisdom, peace, power, authority, and prosperity.” Thank you Rommel!
The value of worshipping the Creator, not the created. So true! We human beings tend to get lost in this world. The material pleasures are very attractive. I am not saying don’t work hard and get what makes you comfortable, but don’t let that be the end goal, for it would never be enough. Gratitude helps us to understand what we have and share what we have, regardless of the amount we possess.
Below are some tools so you can show your gratitude to Him and let the blessings unfold.
1. Make a list of 20 things that you appreciate: Write “Thank God” in front of every blessing. Make a list of the things you feel good about and why you are grateful for that thing, situation or person. How did you feel doing this? Here is the good news: You have just increased your positivity and now you can attract more happiness, abundance, and prosperity.
2. Appreciate the little things too: Start looking for everything you can be grateful for in life and start talking about it all the time, no matter how insignificant it is. If you find a dollar from your old shirt’s pocket, celebrate. Tell everyone how grateful you are for that. That is how you are tuning your mind to show gratitude for the tiniest blessing in your life.
3. Share the gratitude: At least once a day, share a gratitude status on Facebook or whatever social media you use and ask others what they are grateful for. You will get blessings for your thanks and theirs too.
4. Sense the gratitude: Standing in front of the mirror, focus on your eyes that can see, ears that can hear, a nose that can smell, rather than just measuring the size and diameter of that small pimple.
5. Learn positivity: Seek the positive out of every negative. List at least three good lessons from every painful experience and be grateful that life threw that situation at you so that you could learn. And then, move on.
In a nutshell, developing the attitude of gratitude to God will do wonders in your life. Identify those wonders and be grateful for them so you can have more.
(Suleiman Bulbulia is a Justice of the Peace, Secretary of the Barbados Muslim Association and Muslim Chaplain at the Cave Hill Campus, UWI. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)