GRATITUDE PART 3: The Memory Of The Heart
“Gratitude is the memory of the heart is an old French proverb by Jean-Baptiste Massieu. The practice of gratitude is a beautiful, timely, wise, and loving way with scientific evidence, to nourish and uplift your heart.
Besides, gratitude has been shown to increase our overall health and wellbeing: including getting more sleep.
Maybe even now is the best possible moment to practice gratitude. Most people know when and why they feel grateful. It comes with events that make us feel joyful and happy. But as life can be unpredictable, and feel scary, practicing gratitude can be hard or a challenge too. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to think we should be grateful 100 percent of the time. That’s an impossible standard. We know gratitude is good for us, we know we should feel grateful, we know life would be better if we did, but sometimes the feeling is just not there and then we feel guilty about it.
To quote Robert Emmons, world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude: “When faced with adversity, gratitude helps us to see the big picture and not feel overwhelmed by current setbacks. It can actually motivate us to tackle the challenges before us and be a practice to cope with difficult times.”
For many years, I found it hard to feel grateful. Filled with fear, anger, disappointment, and resentment, I felt unhappy for a very long time. It started after my family and I moved to the Netherlands when I was 8 years old. From a safe space with friends, I felt actually excited to move to another country, but there were a few events that became very stressful for me:
In my class, there were many fights and bullying. Especially in the small group of girls, starting with 9 which ended up in just 6 girls. 3 girls left school because of the terror of one girl. By the time I was 10 my parents got divorced, for which I felt responsible as I thought many of their fights started because of what I did. And feeling torn apart between my parents and feeling a betrayer when I was with my mom or with my dad. And on top of that I was struggling in my teenage years with who I felt I was, the introverted and sensitive person that symbolizes weakness, and how I was supposed to be to meet the expectations of my parents, for my mom in particular.
As I mentioned earlier in the first episode on gratitude, (episode nr 17) I didn’t understand what gratitude meant, besides saying “thank you“.
Now, for me, the practice of gratitude is related to the practice of self-care and forgiving.
It doesn’t matter how you start and which practice resonates with you, but let me invite you to choose you first. Start with you.
When you decide and commit that you are enough, things will change for the better.
It doesn’t mean that you give up or don’t want to grow. It means: “I am accepting where I am now, and I know and feel that I can do better. For myself and my dear ones, and for the world and therefore I start to appreciate myself, here and now. I am here because I am alive.”
This is the starting point. YES, indeed you are alive. And you’ve come so far.
The next point is: “What do I want in my life? What is my deepest desire?”
Do you want to feel more love, compassion, kindness, understanding, acceptance? Can you give this to yourself?
Do you want to feel loved? Do you want to be heard and to be seen?
This is the moment to let your heart speak freely.
When you start answering these questions, you acknowledge what you can receive. In order to receive you also need to recognize the goodness around you. Maybe you can mention one thing for today. If you can mention one, maybe you can mention 3 things.
Go ahead, pause here and write or type the thoughts that come up now. Or record a voice message. I’ll wait…
The thing is, that we take more for granted than we realize, and I mean both: what we give and what we receive. In fact, gratitude can be very difficult because it requires that you recognize your dependence on others, and that does not always feel good. You have to humble yourself, in the sense that you have to become a good receiver of others’ support and generosity. That can be very hard – most people are better givers than receivers. But especially when you think you don’t deserve it. So allowing yourself to receive is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
“Yes, gratitude is a good idea, and people would be better off if they practiced it. But not me. You don’t know what I’m going through.”
When people feel grateful, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are free of negative emotions. They don’t necessarily have less anxiety or less tension or less unhappiness. Practicing gratitude magnifies positive feelings more than it reduces negative ones. So gratitude isn’t just a nice warm feeling. It has responsibilities that go along with it that can make it difficult or challenging.
Especially when you carry (emotional) pain from a traumatic experience, grief, and loss, or anxiety, there is another practice that comes along with gratitude; and that is that is the practice of forgiving and forgiveness.
Without bypassing the events and the emotions you might carry with you, gratitude is the best way to heal and change your personal vibration instantly. It transforms the moment into something better, even in a slight amount of time.
Because, the other side of forgiveness is the freedom of living your best life.
It means to stop allowing whatever the person did, to affect the way you’re living the life now and give yourself permission to step out of your history.
Actually saying or even better, writing out loud: “I’m finished with it. And now I will listen and respect myself.” Again, you need to do this before you can recognize and receive the goodness inside yourself. And around you. That alone is quite an accomplishment.
So may I seduce you to take an inventory of all the good things you have done for other people? Celebrate your own strengths and admirable qualities.
I invite you to take notes and let your heart speak. Just for two minutes or more when you feel like it. Let it flow from your pen or fingers when you’re typing.
And then, when ready, say thank you. Thank you to yourself for being you. That’s all.
With love and gratitude,
Humble Luxury – the series is a new addition to the podcast featuring one life theme at the time.
The series is to promote the feeling of non material wealth, well-being on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level, meaningful gems that symbolize the beauty and rough side of life , and appreciation for the goodness in and around ourselves.
Expand your world, expand your reality.
Sharing sweet and simple “strategies”, doable tools and inspiration for the realization of a free mind and a prosperous life.
Because a free mind is a joy forever.
Gratitude & Life Through Your Lens
mindful photography with Vinita
Gratitude & The Memory Of Your Heart
journal therapy with Claudia