Written by: Chifuyu Casaclang, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
What is gratitude? The definition of gratitude in Google is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness*. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Just reading this definition warms my heart. After all, we’re naturally loving beings. When we feel appreciative of someone, we feel good. When we are grateful for something nice that someone did for us, we feel good. The keys to gratitude are all pointed out in this definition. First, we feel thankful for something or someone. And then we show appreciation and return kindness. Voila. Easy. When you show appreciation or be kind to someone, you feel good, and they feel good. Now, let me ask you one question. How often do you feel gratitude in your daily life? If it makes us feel warm and fuzzy, why do we not do it more often? Or all the time? Let’s break this question down to why we don’t feel grateful as much as we should and when we should feel grateful.
What we focus on in “the now”
The reason why we don’t feel grateful as much as we should lies in where we focus in each moment. Our mind is brilliant. What we focus on starts creating our thoughts and feelings. What does this mean? When we focus on what’s lacking, we get thoughts about why it’s lacking and feelings of lack. When we focus on what we have, we almost automatically get thoughts of appreciation and feelings of gratitude. Let me give you an example. When you focus on why your partner never closes the cupboard door after he opens it (yes, it’s not just your partner who does this), you think “He never listens to me!” or, “How hard is it to close what you opened??” and feel irritated. You are focusing on their lack of awareness or their lack of common sense (YOUR common sense, to be exact). Or if you have a child who always tells you they’ll do it later but never does what they said they’d do. You think “They never mean what they say!” or, “I don’t trust them anymore” and again, feel irritated or frustrated. You are focusing on the lack of sincerity or worthiness of their words. Or your friend plans a day with you but cancels last minute. You think “This isn’t nice, they keep doing this to me” or “They shouldn’t have made any plans with me, to begin with,” and feel disappointed or stressed.
Now, what happens when you focus on the fact that you have all these people in your life? The fact that you have a partner to share your life with. A person who loves, helps, and supports you. If you didn’t have them, you couldn’t feel the warmth when you were watching a movie together. Or you wouldn’t have someone to chat with anytime you want. Or the fact that you have a child whom you love unconditionally. The privilege of witnessing this little person growing up. The honour to raise one human being. A fact that you have someone whom you consider a friend. Someone you laugh with. Someone who shares the same interests as you. Someone who cheers you up when you feel down. Sure, it was unfortunate that they canceled the plan with you a few times but there must have been all these other times that they did come with you and enjoyed the time together. You probably know as well that there was a pretty good reason why they had to cancel. If you didn’t have all these people in your life, you wouldn’t have had all these fun times and happy experiences now, would you? When you realize how lucky you are to have someone in your life, doesn’t it make you feel thankful? Doesn’t it make you want to show appreciation and return kindness?
Why we focus on what we focus on
Let’s think about the reasons why we focus on lack so much in our lives. It’s not just one reason. There are various reasons why we focus on what’s lacking. This isn’t a bad thing. If you don’t know what’s lacking, you won’t know what you want. But people take this to the extreme. We tend to always focus on what’s lacking. When we do that, we forget what we have. We forget what’s important. We even lose sight of what we really want. I want you to really think about this. When you are always focusing on what’s lacking in your life, what do you get? Thoughts of why they’re not in your life and all sorts of feelings associated with lack. Irritation, disappointment, sadness, resentment, jealousy, frustration, and even anger. Sound familiar? Where do these feelings lead? Nowhere. I mean, you don’t get what you want by feeling these emotions. You just don’t feel good. When you don’t feel good, you are probably not your best. Above all, when you are feeling these so-called negative feelings, you can’t feel happy. And what do you want the most in your life? Isn’t it happiness? Isn’t it joy? Love, fun, and excitement? It sounds so simple, but if you focus on what’s lacking, you can’t get what you want. You see how this works? You might say it’s easier said than done. You’re right. Why is it hard to change your thought pattern and behaviour pattern? Because you are a creature of habits. Once you program it into your subconscious mind, it becomes your habit. When anything becomes a habit, you can do it so easily without putting much thought. When you get into a habit of focusing on what’s missing in your life or in that moment, this is what you start doing all the time. When you are on autopilot, you find what’s missing right away. All the time. Naturally, you feel these negative emotions all the time. You always feel unhappy. Frustrated with life. Unsatisfied with your reality. Or possibly with yourself. This vicious cycle continues until you realize what you are doing and what you are focusing on. The great news is that once you realize what you are doing, you can change it. You can change your focus and you can change your habits. That’s the power you have. Awareness. Conscious mind.
When we should feel gratitude
So now we know why we don’t always feel grateful, we can talk about when we should. The answer is as much as you can. You ask how often? All the time. Literally. Why? Because nothing is a given. There is absolutely nothing in this world that exists for all eternity. Well, energy does so I should say nothing exists forever in this physical world. Not your family, not your friends, not yourself. Not even air, water, our land, and the planet called Earth. But we act like they do. When we think everything is a given, we take it for granted. When we take everything for granted, we don’t appreciate it. We don’t feel grateful. Almost a year ago, we lost our dog. We loved him so much. He was a healthy, energetic dog. We didn’t take him for granted, per se. Every day that we spent with him, we gave him plenty of love and attention. But we assumed he would have a long life. We thought his long life was a given. He was only 4 years old when he passed. We cried. We felt sad. We still miss him. If we focused on what’s lacking, we probably would be still feeling miserable today. If we focus on the lack of him, his presence, the time with him, and the warmth of his body, we would feel angry, sad, and remorseful this whole time. Probably miss him so much that we stop living in the present, missing everything else that we have in our lives. Here’s the amazing thing that happened to me and my family. We are happy to remember him. When we remember him, we laugh. We talk about the fond memories of him and smile. Sometimes with tears but we are happy to remember him. Because we are focusing on what he gave us. What he meant to us. All the love and fun he brought into our lives. We focus on what we had with him and the memories we have of him. We feel so fortunate to have found him and tremendously happy to have had a beautiful 4 years with him. We still miss him so much. Sometimes we cry because we want to hold him. But when you focus on what you received, you feel so grateful. You feel so much love. It makes you want to experience it again. In our case, with another pet. A dog, a cat, a guinea pig, whatever it is. Because he gave us so much and we were able to give him the life he wouldn’t have, had we not adopted him from a rescue centre. It makes us want to give another animal a chance to be loved and cared for. When we give, we receive so much in return. When you feel thankful, you want to show appreciation and return kindness. It’s a win-win. When you feel grateful for our clean air, you want to make sure you don’t pollute it. When you appreciate nature, you want to take care of it. When you feel grateful for your partner, you want to do something to return love. When we focus on what we have, we feel fortunate and grateful. You get warm and fuzzy inside. Have you done it recently? You really should give it a try. It’s awesome.
Say what you feel and feel what you say
In the previous article, I mentioned “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” So many of us do quite the opposite. Esther Hicks, who teaches people the knowledge of Abraham, talked about this in one of her videos. Sometimes a mother tells her child, “You know I love you!” in a very angry voice while scolding them. This confuses a child. It confuses me, too. Because “You know I love you” is very loving. You are telling a person how much you love them. But this mother doesn’t really mean it because she’s not feeling what she said. She’s feeling angry. So her words are not true at this moment. When it comes to these “warm and fuzzy” words, you need to really feel it yourself. That’s how you mean what you say. When you feel the words “I love you”, you smile. You really mean it. You need to align your feelings with your words. What’s interesting is that we do this pretty well with our negative emotions. When we feel negative, we often say negative words and show it all in our words and behaviours to others. When I say “say what you feel and feel what you say”, it means with what we call “positive” emotions. No need to say and feel negatively that much. I will discuss this reason in another article. The point is, that it is very important to focus on what you have. When you focus on what you have, you feel happy and grateful. When you feel happy and grateful, I want you to express it in words and actions. The easiest feeling to do this with is gratitude. All you need to do is to feel grateful and say thank you. When you align your gratitude and the word “thank you”, you naturally mean it. When you do something with gratitude, it shows in your actions. When you feel grateful, you feel blessed. You appreciate what you have. When you feel fortunate, you feel lucky. When you feel lucky, you don’t take anything for granted. And when you feel grateful, milk it. Feel it really deeply, for as long as you can. The more you feel it and the longer you feel it, the better your words and actions get. Again, it’s a win-win. So Say what you feel and feel what you say. Focus on anything that makes you feel gratitude, happiness, joy, and love. If you think you don’t have any that makes you feel this way in your life right now, then focus on Earth. Without air, we don’t exist. Without water, we don’t exist. Focus on the fact that you are alive. Without life, there is nothing to experience.
What happens when you start focusing on feeling gratitude?
I just talked about saying what you feel and feel what you say. Now, what happens when you start focusing on what makes you feel grateful? You feel good. You get more good feeling thoughts. When you repeat it, your subconscious mind programs this into a habit. Instead of always looking at what’s lacking, you start looking at what you have. You start focusing on what fills your heart. What makes you happy. Things and people that make you smile. You start to feel love more often. Possibly all the time. Dr. Joe Dispenza says that we don’t see things how they are, we see things how we are. When we are happy, we naturally see the good in everything and everyone. When you see the good, you feel love. When you feel love inside of you, your words and behaviours become loving. People usually respond with love and joy to loving, kind words and actions. They start feeling good. When they feel good, they get good feeling thoughts. When their thoughts and feelings align, their words and actions align with them. This is why Mohandas Gandhi said, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself”. If you start seeing happier people around you because you are feeling happy, wouldn’t you want to do it? If all you need to do is to look at what you have for you to feel happy and grateful, isn’t it easy enough for you to start right at this moment? What do you think is stopping you? A lot of times, it could be your habitual thoughts and habitual feelings. If you’ve always looked at what’s lacking and felt stressed out, this becomes the norm. This is the habit of your body and mind. Habits are hard to break if you don’t become aware of it. So notice your habits. And have a clear intention of breaking it or overwriting it with the better one. Keep going with the determination to change. Some call it a discipline. I’d call it a strong desire.
What exists in your life now?
All of us have air to live. All of us get the blessing of the sun. Nature. Most of us have a lot in our lives. A place to live. Food on the table. Some money to buy stuff. A job. If you are a student, a school to learn. A family or people you consider as your family. Friends. Or at least a friend. It’s all these blessings that you can focus on every single day. And remember, you have you. You have yourself and your life to experience this world. Without you, you don’t have anything. You can never take yourself for granted. Take care of yourself. Do your best with what you have. Enjoy yourself. Love and treat your body well. Treat yourself like the person you love the most. Give yourself a break. Talk to yourself with love and kindness. Find what you have and praise yourself. Appreciate yourself. Did you know your body is made of just about 36 trillion cells? If you say you can’t love yourself, love the cells that make up your body. All 36 trillion of them. The world population in 2021 is about 7.8 billion according to Google. So your body has 4,500 more times of cells than the world population. It sounds crazy. All these cells work together and make up one entire person, you. The cells must be unified. They need to know what each is doing to keep you alive and keep you going. Working together with oxygen, water, food, and bacteria. Fascinating, isn’t it? If you can appreciate 36 trillion cells and love them, feels like it would be easy to appreciate the whole world and appreciate them. What I want to say is, if you really try, it’s easy for you to find what you have. Once you do, you can feel grateful. Say thank you out loud or in your mind. Align your gratitude with thoughts and words. They say it takes about an average of 21 days to change your habit. Let’s start now. Today is your Day 1. Focus on what you have. Feel gratitude. Repeat as often as you can. Soon you’ll create a new habit of focusing on what you have and feeling grateful all the time. As Audrey Hepburn once said, “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible”.
*Google Dictionary, definition from Oxford Languages “definition of gratitude”
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Chifuyu Casaclang, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Chifuyu is a therapeutic counsellor and an RTT practitioner. She uses a unique way of counselling with the knowledge of how the body/mind works, Rapid Transformational Therapy skills, and the gift of intuition to help you realize your long-term false beliefs and overcome who you learned to be. She has this absolute “knowing” that everyone is more than capable of becoming the “extraordinary”. Believing in yourself is the key to transforming yourself. You are what you believe. Chifuyu guides your journey of discovering and mastering yourself through overwriting your false beliefs. Above all, she shows you how to have fun in the process, on your way to becoming your “ideal” self.