Category: Druidry Written by Nimue Brown
Being deliberate about gratitude is a really good element to add into your spiritual practice.
There are many different ways of approaching it. Keeping a gratitude journal to note down the things you really appreciate each day is one strategy. You can contemplate what there is to be grateful for as part of a meditative practice. Gratitude is an excellent focus for prayer, if that suits you better. It can also be expressed well as part of rituals, be those shared or solitary.
Even when times are tough and life is grim, there are usually small beauties to celebrate. The sunset, birdsong, a really nice cloud, a breath of wind on a hot day, a smile from someone, a kind word. Practicing gratitude helps centre those experiences so that they become more of a focal point in your day. If you’re genuinely struggling, this can help you find comfort and small moments of respite.
Depression can rob you of the ability to see what’s good in your life. Making time every day to actively think about what’s good and to identify it can help push back against what depression does. If you’re trapped by historical suffering but technically safe, then gratitude can be a good way of helping yourself to recalibrate and move on.
If things are actually hellish, then it’s important not to start being grateful for awful things. I know there are some ostensibly spiritual teachers who encourage people to be grateful for all experiences, but I don’t think that’s healthy. You do not have to be grateful for the lessons that break your heart, the misery that crushes you or the harm you experience. If there’s a time for that, it’s when you’re well clear of those things and can be grateful for what you’ve learned and how far you’ve come. If things are awful, you are absolutely allowed to be cross and to resent it, and that doesn’t make you a less spiritual person. We need to embrace the full range of our experiences and sometimes things are just shit and need treating as such.
Capitalism teaches us to always want more. Gratitude teaches us to slow down and enjoy what we already have. Looking at the wealth and bounty we have helps us take more pleasure from what’s already in our lives. Gratitude increases joy and time invested in appreciating good things will enrich your life. It also calls for slowing down. This is a practice where you have to stop regularly and notice things. Appreciation invites slow relishing, pausing, and taking time. That means investing more in the things that strike you as good, and this way lies more scope for happiness and having more to be grateful for.
There are a lot of social prompts that push people towards ingratitude, being demanding, expecting more than we get and so forth. This seems to be a problem that especially afflicts people who have a great deal. Rudeness, selfishness and lack of appreciation are things that often go with having a lot of money. There’s an interesting intersection between social power and how we express ourselves here.
I have a vast amount to be grateful for at the moment, with returning health being at the top of the list. It’s hard to enjoy things when you’re ill all the time. I’ve done a lot of years focusing on small beauties and joys, and making what good out of what little was available to me. As my situation improves I’m experiencing giddy feelings of abundance, and deep joy in celebrating that. I am so utterly grateful for how my life has changed.
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