One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2019 was to practice gratitude daily. This meant writing down two or three things I was grateful for each night, specific to that day. It was an invaluable exercise and a practice I will continue. But it wasn’t until I sat with a very special man, on the eve of his 100th birthday, that I understood the true meaning of gratitude.
This man, was unlike anyone I’ve ever met before. He lived a simple life and was no stranger to hardship; yet he had a humility and kindness like no other. He had overcome adversity and deep loss. He kept active, had a fondness for routine and seemed deeply embedded in his community. On having the privilege to sit with and get to know him, I came to learn the secrets to living such a life. And it just so happened that top of the list was the very thing I was trying to cultivate in my own life; practising gratitude.
So I decided to share what I experienced every time I met this man and what I believe was integral to his long, fulfilling life. They’re simple and practical things to do but hopefully helpful.
- Practice gratitude: This gives me a balanced perspective on life. It enables me to recognise where to focus my attention (grateful for the little things) and discard that which is immaterial.
- Stay connected: Feeling connected to those who matter most to us is so important for our wellbeing. It enables us to feel safe and secure.
- Have a good sense of humour: Being able to share a laugh and laugh at ourselves will always provide relief at a time when we most need it.
- Have a belief system: While I am not religious, I do believe in practising that which brings calm into our realities. For some that is prayer, for me it’s meditation and yoga.
- Stay active: It keeps us physically fit but it helps the brain to feel happy.
- Practice kindness: You have nothing to lose by being kind!
Even if you just choose one of these to start the year with, you’re off to a good start. Remember, you’re more likely to be successful in reaching your goals by changing one thing at a time and not everything all at once. I do not claim to be as wise as a 100 year old, but I believe that practising gratitude is a good place to start. Happy New Year!