The power of gratitude

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By Gretchen Varela

Breathing Gratitude

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I DON’T know how I began to gravitate towards gratitude these recent years. Maybe I picked it up from the seminars and books that I have read, and in all of that I came to believe that having a grateful disposition is the key to happiness in life.

My favorite video that I used to watch a lot with my kids when they were much younger was a VeggieTales episode entitled Madame Blueberry and the lesson was on thankfulness.

She was a sad blueberry who acquired an excess of material things yet had emptiness within. She later on learned from Junior the Asparagus how one could find true happiness just by being thankful and content with what he has. The theme song of that episode “because a thankful heart is a happy heart…” was forever ingrained in me.

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Gratitude resonated within me so much that it became my guide, and I coined the phrase “Breathing Gratitude” and made it the name for my blog and my column here in Sun.Star Lifestyle.

Breathing gratitude is still a work in progress for me. It is a deliberate practice for me as I still catch myself complaining, worrying and grumbling sometimes. But when I do, I try to immediately snap out of it, take a deep breath and utter a “thank you” even in difficult situations. That simple practice instantly makes my mood much lighter.

Another practice that I have always attempted to do was to keep a “blessings notebook.” This is the practice of writing down blessings or things that I am thankful for everyday. I’ve started doing this a few times but doing this consistently is always a challenge especially when my days get busy. This is such a powerful practice in increasing gratitude.

Recently I learned another strategy that could further deepen gratitude. As I write the things that I am thankful for I also write my reasons behind it. This makes me even more grateful for each blessing as I realize how my life would be so different without it.

Things that we normally take for granted such as our eyes, will totally change our lives if we didn’t have them. Can you imagine how difficult life would be without legs? Think of how unhealthy we will be without exercise, or how inconvenient it would be just to go to the bathroom or take a bath.

Think of how one family would give anything for a healthy heart to save one member of their family. Many times we take our fully functioning organs for granted, not remembering that without any of these, life would be oh so difficult.

Many times we take the people around us for granted until we lose them. Sadly, that is when we realize how much we should have expressed our love for them.

The list goes on and on from health, to relationships, to blessings of provision, to nature, to spirituality, among many others. The list is endless as there are just too many things that we could and should be thankful for.

Looking back now I realize that my level of contentment and happiness has dramatically increased since I begun practicing breathing gratitude. This happened even if the circumstances of my life haven’t changed.

Life still throws challenges and stumbling blocks at me but having a positive outlook and a grateful disposition makes things a lot lighter. It is my desire to share the power of gratitude, which I know will bring much joy and meaning in your life as well.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 24, 2014.

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