It’s easy to practise gratitude when life is going exactly how you want it to. Feelings of happiness and peace help you appreciate the little things, empower you, and allow you to see hidden blessings in all situations.

However, what happens when a crisis hits? It’s much harder to perceive anything as a blessing when you’re caught in the grip of emotional turmoil. Feeling afraid, blaming others and succumbing to doubt can send you down a fast path towards self-absorption, whereby daily life seems to become a series of ‘unlucky’ moments.

What is Gratitude?

In essence, gratitude is the state of being thankful. When you practise offering thanks every day, even for things that may appear insignificant, you start looking at life as an opportunity to grow and learn. This way of perceiving life leads to healing and internal peace, even when there’s external chaos.

What you focus your attention on, expands. Therefore, if you’re in the midst of a problem and you only concentrate on the negative, chances are you’ll experience more of it. In most circumstances, no matter what the issue, there’s always something to be thankful for. The problem is, we’re often too caught up in the drama to notice. The key is to make gratitude a habit, rather than an after-affect.

Making Gratitude a Way of Life

To experience the inner peace that results from gratitude, you should start by counting your blessings on a daily basis. How often do you feel truly thankful for a sunny day? A warm shower? A refreshing drink of water? As you increase your sense of gratitude for all the little things in life, you allow inner peace to expand and radiate towards the world around you.

An asana and meditation practice, for example, increases your sense of wellbeing, connectedness and peace. In this, it’s easy to find gratitude for the spaciousness and balance within. Starting a gratitude journal reminds you of all the blessings that occur in a day and the act of writing them down gives you the opportunity to focus on the associated positive feelings.

The Benefits of Gratitude

When you start making gratitude a way of life, as opposed to something you feel only when things are going well, you boost your sense of optimism and enthusiasm. This helps to reduce anxiety and stress, which, in turn, strengthens your immune system and leads to healthier living.

Your relationships become more satisfying, your work is imbued with more creativity, and it’s easier to navigate the choppy waters of problems, when they do arise. When you add it all up, it’s no surprise that the tiny act of saying and feeling “thanks”, leads to an increased sense of inner peace.