The Importance of Being Grateful

23 Apr
Being consciously grateful has many of the benefits of meditation!

Being consciously grateful has many of the benefits of meditation!

We all want…

We want more money.

We want to look better naked.

We want pie.

We want more respect from our coworkers.

We want to be better dancers… lovers… parents… painters… friends… speakers…

We want, we want, we want!

The truth is there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting. It’s perfectly natural and it motivates us to work for what we want in life.

However, if you are in a constant state of “want” you can begin to feel deprived and if you consistently feel deprived your mood and general well-being can seriously suffer. On the extreme end of the scale you could even begin to experience depression.

One thing that we need to realize these days is that no matter how much we “want” we also need to be aware of the many blessings that we already “have” in our lives.

Everyone needs to be grateful
I learned about the importance of gratitude as a way to improve general well-being in the same way I’ve come to learn about many useful things in my life; through necessity.

A few years ago I went through a personal “rough patch” that put me on a path to trying to sort it out for myself. I ended up reading a few self-help books and I took a particular interest in the books written by the very famous Tony Robbins. I learned a few different things and it certainly opened my mind to the power of technologies like Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

But of all the things I learned from that time in my life, one of the few that I have maintained and practiced consistently over the years and which is probably the simplest of them all, is conscious gratitude.

Conscious Gratitude. Why?

Why? It is simply the fastest way I have ever found to feel better… immediately and long-term.
And there are a whole host of other reasons why you should practice gratitude regularly, including:

  • better mental health
  • improves the quality of your relationships
  • greater happiness
  • helps you deal with loss and negative emotions
  • improved performance at work and school
  • better sleep
  • improves your immune system and overall health

Check out this article on Huffington Post for a more detailed look on the benefits of being grateful.

To be honest there are probably a million different ways to do this but I’m going to tell you how I do because I’ve found it both effective and easy to make a regular habit. It only takes 2 or 3 minutes a day.

  • Pick a time: You need to make this a habit so make being grateful part of your regular schedule. It could be first thing in the morning or right after lunch. Preferably it should be a time when you can be alone and quiet (not the easiest things to find these days). Personally I always do it at the very end of my stretching routine after I exercise, that way I always just add it on to my time in the gym.
  • Optional: Pick an upbeat song you like: Something that makes you feel good that lasts for 3 0r 4 minutes. You can listen to it as you do the activity and use it like a timer, letting you know when you’ve done enough.
  • Get comfortable: Find a position you’re comfortable sitting or lying in. If you’re at home you could lie on the couch or sit in a favorite chair. I’m a little bit of a purist so I do it seated in “seiza” something I picked up from my karate training. Seiza is not easy so I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to beginners. Whatever position works for you for 3 minutes should be fine.

Seiza, the traditional way of sitting in Japan, is definitely not for beginners!

  • Close your eyes: This is not necessary but it definitely helps you to visualize and focus. I’ve learned how to do this with my eyes open over time but whenever I can (i.e. when I’m alone) I do it with my eyes closed because it just feels easier and more effective.
  • Think about everything you’re grateful for: this is the “bread and butter” of this activity. You should think of everything you have in your life and are grateful for and try to visualize it in your mind. When you visualize it, consciously feel the sensations of happiness that come with the thoughts of those things. The most important part of this whole activity is that you actually make yourself feel good by thinking of these things in your life that you have been blessed with. Only focus on the positive things that make you happy. Physically smile and enjoy the sensation while you think of everything. Don’t be worried if anyone sees you doing this. What’s the worst they can say? Ha, that guy looks really happy !!! (What a burn!)

A few ideas for things to be grateful about might be:

  • The people you love in your life, your family, your friends, your partner
  • Your health
  • All the good experiences you’ve had in life
  • The coming days, weeks and months and all the amazing possibilities they hold
  • That beautiful girl who wears virtually nothing at the gym
  • Your job and the opportunities it has brought you
  • The delicious meal you had with friends last weekend
  • Your achievements over the years
  • Your skills and the things you do well; cooking, dancing, making ornaments out of paperclips
  • The challenges you’ve faced that have shaped you for the better

Be grateful. It’s a great way to perk-up your day!

Consciously think of these things, visualize them and experience the happiness and gratitude that they make you feel!

And that’s it. Feel better for the rest of the day knowing how much you have to be grateful for in life.

It’s gonna be one hell of a great day.


Have you been working-out lately? Because you look spectacular 🙂 If you liked this article go ahead and share it with your friends via the Facebook or Twitter buttons below and if you use Stumbleupon please give it a “Thumbs Up”. I’d really appreciate it 😉

8 Responses to “The Importance of Being Grateful”

  1. Peter Murray April 23, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Another great post Richie. I really like the variety on your blog, you evidently do a lot more than just dance 😉 As for sitting seiza, I’ve recently got the hang of it myself, in the beginning I used to have bruised toes whenever I did it but now somehow it’s a lot more natural, reverse seiza is still rather painful however.

    • The Dancing Irishman April 23, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

      Thanks Peter, I’m glad you liked it. It’s hard to know when if I’m adding too much variety to the blog or not. I want to talk about all the stuff that interests me but I want to maintain the interest of my main readers too (who are mostly dancers). It’ll be a lot of trial and error I suppose.
      As for seiza, learning at first was a bitch, I remember barely being able to hold it for 30 seconds without wanting to cry. I think getting used to it just means that you deaden the nerves in your feet from repeated practice hahaha. You doing any martial arts over there?

      • Peter Murray April 24, 2013 at 4:32 am #

        No I think you’re getting it just right with the variety, and the topics you talk about are topics everyone can relate to in someway; this most recent post being case in point.

        Yea, I think you’re right about the nerves just becoming desensitized to it, but my toes no longer get bruised so I think there must be some stretching of the tibialis/tendons of the foot, I would need to ask my physio friend.

        Yea, I was doing Kyokushin karate for about a year there, I haven’t been so much recently however. I really enjoy it but just have been busy with other things, and I knew I wasn’t going to pursue it very seriously. I learned the basics, and it also just helped me generally fit in and understand the culture a bit more, so I’m very happy I went. I might take it up more seriously after I move south in the Summer.

      • The Dancing Irishman April 24, 2013 at 8:08 am #

        Thanks lad.

        Yeah, learning martial arts really helps with getting used to the culture in Japan and it really shows you just how much of the culture is based on bushido.

        You’re moving south?

  2. Peter Murray April 24, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    Yea, giving Tokyo a shot at the end of my contract here in Yamagata. Very excited, nervous, optimistic, stressed, sad, happy, etc. about the move, it’s a complicated bag of emotions, but I’m sure you understand exactly how I feel.

    • The Dancing Irishman April 25, 2013 at 9:58 am #

      The “Big Sashimi” eh? Moving to Tokyo will be quite a change from Yamagata. Best of luck with it lad and don’t be nervous. It’ll be amazing!

      • Peter Murray April 30, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

        Thanks Richie. Yea it’s gonna be very different for sure, I’ve become very used to the rural lifestyle, but it’s good to challenge oneself and all that.

        What about you, you making any moves or staying put for the time being?

      • The Dancing Irishman May 7, 2013 at 11:24 am #

        Time will tell, there’s a few ideas rattling around in my head right now!

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