Nicki was recently reading an article that was centred around gratitude and how it helps in living a happy life, particularly in times of adversity.
The article was written by a 17-year old rugby player, Henry, who was paralysed in a tragic accident whilst on holiday. He broke his neck on a diving trip and as a result could feel nothing from the neck down. He spent months rehabilitating in hospital and is now confined to a wheelchair. After 4 weeks of lying flat, he was finally able to be hoisted to a sitting position where he saw the sun streaming through the windows of his hospital room. At that point, he was apparently consumed by an overwhelming feeling of gratitude; not only thankful for the fresh air and sunshine, but also the people in his life. His parents had taken it in turns to be at his bedside since the accident and he had different school friends visiting him every day.
Henry’s writing inspired me to think about gratitude and how, if he can feel it in his predicament, then surely I can too! It doesn’t have to take a life-changing event! Once I’d finished reading the article, I donned my wellies and took my dog on a long, muddy walk over some nearby fields. In that moment, I began to feel gratitude just for the walk and all the things it meant to me; fresh air, exercise in a green, open space and a very happy dog! I did a spot of blackberry picking while I was out (those doggie bags always come in handy!) When I finally got home, I made a blackberry crumble to share with my family and thought how blessed I am to have them (both my family/dog and the blackberries!)
The benefits of gratitude are well-documented: more happiness, better health, improved relationships and increased productivity, as shown in this diagram:
This reminded me of something I once read that suggested we jot down everything we could be grateful for (but often forget about), and look at the list every morning before getting out of bed. My list would be quite long and diverse, I reckon! It certainly puts a different perspective on life and makes me realise how extremely lucky I am; from the range of choices I have in my day-to-day life as well as the freedom to exert them, not to mention the people I have in my life, and the things I can share with them. A gratitude list can increase your long-term wellbeing by more than 10 percent – the same impact as doubling your income apparently!
I hope Henry and I have given you some food for thought! What would your gratitude list look like?