Gems, my 16-year-old cat, has been my greatest gratitude teacher.
She’s my miracle cat. When we adopted her she was five years old, and she’d already blown through her nine lives (the number normally allotted to cats). She then proceeded to conjure up another nine, three of them in the last year. And in spite of all the challenges she’s faced – or maybe because of them – she’s the happiest, most relaxed cat I’ve ever encountered.
I had a fairly consistent gratitude practice going before Gems arrived in my life 11 years ago.
But she gets much of the credit for turning my practice into a habit that’s so ingrained I can do it in my sleep.
Gems has recently decided that the most deliciously perfect place to sleep at night is burrowed under the covers, snuggled up against either me or my husband. She starts on Warren’s side and mid-way through the night shifts over to me.
It’s all very sweet except for one small glitch … Gems doesn’t have any idea how to actually scooch underneath the covers on her own. Since I’m fast asleep when she makes her mid-night move she launches a wake-Mom-up-ritual.
First she moves up to my pillow. She then reaches over and gently rubs my face with her paw. Since I’m a heavy sleeper, that rarely penetrates my consciousness. So the next move is an insistent cheek-bop. Bop, bop, bop. Eventually I’ll wake up, lift the covers, and within seconds she’s back under, curled up against my side.
Night after night we dance this dance, and night after night I have the identical half-asleep thought: “I’m so grateful you’re still here to bop me.”
One of these days, she’ll reach the end of her many lives. In the meantime, I’ll gratefully – and happily – take another day with Gems over an uninterrupted night of sleep.
Gratitude is powerful.
When you consistently practice gratitude, consciously acknowledging the good in your life, you boost your happiness, improve your health, and create abundance.
Yeah, I know … that’s a lot from a simple practice.
But there’s no big mystery about why it happens.
Gratitude helps you stay present.
It’s impossible to appreciate what’s good in your life every single day without being present to what’s happening in your life every single day.
Gratitude is about making choices.
You get to choose whether to focus your attention on the negative or on the positive.
You get to choose the lens through which you view every situation.
You get to choose whether to wallow in a bad day, or find at least one thing that’s good.
It’s not about pretending everything is rosy 24/7 or that life is perfect. Neither is true.
But when you focus on what’s good in your life, the good in your life increases. Your motivation, mindset, and actions align with where you’re choosing to focus.
And that’s why gratitude boosts happiness and creates abundance.
Gratitude changes how you show up.
Your energy shifts and you give off a vibe that makes people feel good. You react to people and events differently. You’re present and engaged.
Your very presence has a positive impact.
Gratitude lowers your stress.
When you’re in a moment of conscious gratitude, your heart rate drops, your blood pressure falls, and your breathing slows and deepens. And that reduces both the feeling of stress and its physical impact on your health.
Gratitude keeps you from taking the good days for granted and helps make the bad days a little – or a lot – better.
This one simple practice of taking a few minutes every day to appreciate what’s good in your life packs a powerful punch.
Gratitude changes your life.
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~ William Arthur Ward