Lifestyle coach, Luke Coutinho, reflects on the emotion called gratitude and how it changes our outlook towards life

Words Luke Coutinho

Human minds have been designed in such a way that our focus often goes towards what we do not have and seldom on what we have

Thanksgiving Day just comes once a year, but something as powerful as gratitude needs to be practiced every single day in order to live a happy and fulfilled life. Especially at a time when there are worries and uncertainties all around, tools like gratitude, visualisation and prayers become necessary for us to maintain our calm and keep us grounded.

All too often, our minds dwell on unresolved problems, missed opportunities, lost relationships, unkept promises, poor health, faded dreams, and fears of an uncertain future, regrets and longings. While life does bring its share of challenges and disappointments, it also brings us great joys: solved problems, seized opportunities, stronger relationships, great health, healthy promises, fulfilled dreams, and the hope that reassures our fear—blessing upon blessing. 

Unfortunately, human minds have been designed in such a way that our focus often goes towards what we do not have or what is not going well and seldom on what is going well or what we have and that’s how worry and fears creep in. It could be our health, home as a shelter, jobs, children or relationships, surroundings, access to clean food, nature; there is so much in everyone’s life to offer a little bit of gratitude every single day. 

The age-old practice of offering a prayer before eating a meal was powerful because that helped change the energy of that meal

Finding gratitude in our day to day life 
Every religion talks about offering thanks and gratitude for the food that you eat. There are religions that bless the water before they even drink it. There are several studies showing that gratitude has the ability to change your energy in your heart and mind and that, in turn, influences the way we feel and how our cells function in the body. The age-old practice of offering a small gratitude prayer before eating a meal was powerful because that helped change the energy of that meal and it had nothing to do with any religion. It’s something each and every one of us can do. We can change the energy of that meal because if we eat with negativity that’s exactly how it’s going to break down in the human body. It’s likewise with the water that we drink. You can ask for blessing from the water before you drink it or you can just offer gratitude for having access to clean and safe water. Gratitude is powerful because it is something every human being on this planet can practice, no matter what their economic status is. Gratitude and thankfulness turn little into enough and bring a feeling of contentment and satisfaction, which are in a way other forms of happiness and joy. 

In my line of work, I see a big difference in patients who are grateful. One may think what they should be grateful for if they’re going through cancer or they’re sick and suffering. However, if one is living mindfully and has an attitude of abundance than that of lack, there is always something that they can be grateful for, for e.g. family support, the fact that they can afford the hospital, afford medications or whatever it is. They find something to be grateful for and that changes and shifts the entire energy in the body. It makes the patient feel better and takes away a certain amount of pain. It may be difficult to shift focus on things that are going well when there is sickness and suffering but it is encouraged that they try to find that little gratitude because with it comes a lot of hope. And hope is a magic word that gives us that warrant to keep moving on in our lives. Imagine waking up without hope and without meaning in life. You’re literally dead but alive in a body that’s dead.

Having said that, there are times when no matter what, you just aren’t able to practice gratitude. You just have this feeling of emptiness inside you. The key here is to never stop trying. You have to look for that one little thing that makes you feel thankful. It could be the laughter of your child, the touch of a loved one, or something that someone said and it made you feel good. Holding on to that, and being thankful for it changes the energy and puts you in a space of being more thankful and grateful.
There’s always something, even a little bit that you can find in your life to be grateful for. Gratitude is a lifeline that can help you come up to the surface again when you probably are going through the hardest, saddest and darkest days of your life.

Gratitude is a lifeline that can help you come up to the surface again when you probably are going through the hardest days of your life

Practical ways to practice gratitude
Offering gratitude can be something as simple as saying “Thank you” to someone. A ‘Thanks’ is an influential and occult word. When said genuinely, it has the power to change the energy around us.
Other ways to practice gratitude is to write a thank you letter or a gratitude note 
to someone. 

Write a gratitude email.
End your day on a thankful note, by writing 3 things you are grateful for in the day. This is a powerful practice just before sleep time, as it helps shift our mind from a state of stress and worry to calm and peace. 
Maintain a gratitude journal and pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it can be helpful in picking a number — such as three to five things — that you will recognize each week. As you write, be precise and think about the feelings you felt when something good happened to you. Call a friend or family member and express gratitude. 

Power of advance gratitude 
Advance gratitude is powerful too. In this, one moves from the present quantum field to the future quantum field and gives thanks in advance. For example, one could give thanks for a PET scan report which may come in after 3 months. Or thank the business for generating X amount of profit by the year-end. Or it could even be that you are headed for your first chemotherapy session, but you are also practicing advance gratitude for your successful ninth chemotherapy session. This way, you are already grateful for what you have as well as grateful for what the future has in store. If we are positive about our future, we are also going to draw a more positive future towards us. Again, what do you lose by doing this? Nothing! The trash that we watch on television is shaping our mind patterns already, so we might as well use the power of the mind to think of something better.