Practising gratitude can boost our wellbeing

Being taken for granted

I hate being taken for granted. I can feel myself bristle when what I do is simply expected. For anyone, it’s not a pleasant feeling.

As I reflect on the past few months, I’ve come to realize, while I don’t like being taken for granted, I’d certainly taken much of the goodness in my own life for granted. I forgot to savour and appreciate some of the best parts of life. In doing this, I was missing out.

Often, we don’t know how much we value something until it’s gone. That’s certainly been the case for me as I’ve navigated the changes we’ve all experienced. So much becomes more precious in its absence.

Instead of yearning for what’s no longer possible, or waiting for life to ‘return to normal,’ I’ve turned my mind to the richness that remains in my life, and to savouring many of life’s pleasures that have been here the whole time. I’ve started to really pay attention to what I do have, and have found sources of joy I’d gone blind to because I’d taken them for granted.

I’ve learned that expectation and losing sight of what’s really important in life robs me of the benefits of being grateful.

I no longer want to take the precious people in my life for granted, and have started telling people how much I value them, and why. It’s one thing to let people know they matter, but it deepens in meaning and depth when we tell them why we appreciate them. While I’m expressing my gratitude to the people close to me, I’ve also decided to expand my circle of appreciation.

In expressing gratitude to a grocery clerk recently, she was moved to tears to receive appreciation. It was a moment in time that cost me nothing, but left both of us feeling richer and warmer inside. 

Engaging with people at a human level, and treating the people who serve us every day as more than a means to getting our needs met, creates an opening and deepening that leaves a ripple of goodness in this world. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the virtual reality of our minds, and lose sight of the beauty and goodness that surrounds us.

One friend reflected she thought nature was putting on the best spring display ever this year. She then realized it wasn’t nature who had changed, it was her own awareness that had opened up as she was more present to life. She found herself filled with gratitude by noticing what had been there the whole time, but she’d gone blind to. 

Practicing gratitude boosts the production of neurochemicals and hormones that support well-being. Our brains and our bodies benefit from practicing gratitude

Even if we can’t find anything to be grateful for, the mere practice of stopping to look for something to be grateful for creates a shift. 

Or, you can up the power of gratitude. 

While merely listing what we are grateful for is helpful, thinking of why we’re grateful for the items on our list enhances the benefits we receive. 

Try this out for yourself, paying attention to how you feel inside. 

Think of something you’re grateful for, pause for a moment and notice how you feel. Then list the reasons why you’re grateful. How do you feel now? 

We can spend our time lamenting on what’s no longer possible, or we can choose to turn our attention on what remains. This benefits us and those we appreciate in amazing ways.

What we appreciate, appreciates!

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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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