Gratitude is a pretty big deal around the C4 Foundation. I’ve written about gratitude in many past columns, and it is one of our core programmatic pillars. Research has shown that gratitude has benefits to pretty much every element of our lives, ranging from workplaces, family relationships, and personal health. Based on all these urgings to be grateful all the time, I think many people feel a lot of pressure to be grateful. This can create a downward cycle, unfortunately, as people feel like gratitude is too much work, or is too difficult. The thing about gratitude though, is that it varies, from small notions and gifts, such as someone sending us a card or a text message of support, all the way to the potential for us to form a broad appreciation of life itself.
So, when it comes to practicing gratitude, I like to tell people to start small, work your way up, and don’t force it. Gratitude practice can begin or take place any time, on good days and bad days, but how we apply our practice makes a huge difference in whether we will get the chance to notice gratitude’s benefits. For instance, I like to think of gratitude every time I have a drink of water. If it is the worst day ever, or the best day, the same truth is there for every sip: it took a lot of people, engineering, and, well, the entire planet, to deliver the water. Noticing gratitude for that sip of water won’t solve all our problems, but it will remind us that even in the midst of all that is happening, there is still a magical infrastructure that is independent and supportive of us. I find that to be quite the stress relief in itself. From there, gratitude flows.