Gratitude: The New Mindfulness

First up, I’m are not anti-capitalist. I’m not advocating a back-to-basics agrarian society in which we shun possessions and all sit, cross-legged, chanting our gratitude for the roasted mealworms we’re about to eat. I drive a nice car, live in nice house and have wallowed in as much materialism as the next person.

But here’s a thing. Have you noticed all these swanky new self-storage warehouses that are cropping up everywhere? It seems that people have accumulated so much stuff that’s failed to make them happy, that they’re now renting somewhere to put it so they can clear some space at home, for more stuff. That will fail to make them happy!

It’s a near perfect system (just so long as nobody stops and thinks about it too much).

And then there’s ‘marketing’, whose job it is to make you want to buy ‘stuff’ in the first place. Ever wondered why you’ve got 57 pairs of shoes? It’s a classic example of what I call being ‘badly malled’ – formerly known as ‘shop till you drop’, formerly formerly known as ‘retail therapy’.

As Jamie Smart says so damned brilliantly, “If you’re caught in a trap, what’s the one thing you have to do before you can escape? You have to realise that you’ve been caught in a trap!”

Mindfulness has been doing the rounds lately. I define mindfulness simply as the awareness of being aware and I’d like to introduce you to mindfulness’s hipster friend, gratitude. They’ve been #besties, like forevs. In fact, they’re inseparable.

Learning to live with a sense of appreciation means you create a better world for yourself. Gratitude acts like fertilizer for happiness.

The majority of folk spend an inordinate amount of time grumbling about what they haven’t got. You don’t have to be ‘most people’. So flip your thinking and spend an inordinate amount of time being grateful for what you have got. The posh word for this is ‘gratitude’ and you can get started right now by listing 20 things that you really appreciate but take for granted. The first few are easy, then you’ll get stuck and weird things will creep in. Have a look at your list and magnetic it to your fridge so you can see it every day. I think you’ll find you’re luckier than you ever imagined?

It’s pretty much a first for the human species. For the vast majority of time that humans have occupied the planet we haven’t have enough food, warmth or shelter and life was, I would imagine, rather grim. Indeed, we forget that many countries are exactly like that. Now we have it all and we’re in danger of overshooting the runway in a quest to obtain just a little more than we actually need.

You don’t have to be ‘most people’. So flip your thinking and spend an inordinate amount of time being grateful for what you have got.

Gratitude helps us put the brakes on (either a little or a lot, it’s up to you) and it’s something that you can practice. Do it every morning when you wake up (woohoo, I’m alive), while you brush your teeth (how amazing, I still have my own teeth), look in the mirror (hello gorgeous), eat your breakfast (yummy food in my tum), commute to work (I have a car, with cup holders and a secret sunglasses compartment!), etc.

Learning to live with a sense of appreciation means you create a better world for yourself. Gratitude acts like fertilizer for happiness.

So let’s finish with a biggy. The University of London’s Institute of Education produced a report that attempted to put a monetary value on intangibles. Get this…

‑ Seeing friends and relatives is equivalent to a pay rise of £64k a year

‑ Chatting to nice neighbours is worth £37k a year

‑ Getting married is worth £50k a year

‑ And the biggy, excellent health is estimated to be worth £300k a year to you

I sincerely hope you can tick some of the boxes above? We are ingratitude spotters, fixating on all the stuff that we haven’t yet got. We spend oodles of hard earned cash chasing trinkets.

Taking the argument to the extreme, I guess you could trade in your family, friends, neighbours and good health and collect £451,000?

And you’d be nearly half a million pounds richer, but so much poorer.

By: Andy Cope 

Andy Cope is the author of Happiness – your route-map to inner joy. Available now on Amazon. Find out more about Andy at http://www.artofbrilliance.co.uk/

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