If I asked you to infuse your life with grace what would it look like? To be gracefully productive. To have impact with grace. To be graceful as a parent, graceful in your communication, graceful in your leadership. What would change? Think about it for a moment. Be fascinated by You as a graceful being.
Grace is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as ‘a quality of moving in a smooth, relaxed and attractive way’ and ‘ways of behaving that are considered kind and pleasant’ as well as the religious connotation of approval or kindness freely given by God.
Smooth for me conjures up frothing ceremoniously in a chocolate ad’s melty bubble bath, mellowing in a soft jazz club ambience of laissez-faire cool, being carefree and eaaasey like a Sunday morning. Pleasantness meanders me into fields of flowers twirling, probably in a baby blue chequered pinafore smock, probably surrounded by fluffy-tailed bunnies and white kittens.
It’s fair to say, indeed and albeit with the grace of God, that daily life is alas far from as smooth or as dream-montage pleasant.
Daily life is in fact an undulating flurry of freneticism, deadlines, unexpected demands, noise and chaos from most directions not to mention the odd bit of dog sick, those train cancellations and the downpours on the days I forget my brolly. Yes I make that bubble bath bliss a couple of times a week and of course have joyful moments aplenty, but when I’m honest, and as I chide my kids incessantly ‘Let’s always be honest please, Darling’, I could do with a more regular sprinkling of grace across the average week. I’ll hazard a guess you’re with me. Yes?
So, if we’re to find the smooth and pleasant utopia a graceful life promises then let’s work out how.
Arianna Huffington believes “We all have within us the ability to move from struggle to grace.” And I agree, I emphatically agree. When we herald a posture of grace we pause from the maelstrom of modern life and it’s perpetual stressors. We enter a holy serenity of The Detached Observer, unflappable, unsinkable and gently poised. The key, my smooth seekers, to holding that majestic posture lies in gratitude.
Grace & gratitude have the same latin root, gratus and as Ms Huffington reminds us ‘Living in a state of gratitude is the gateway to grace.’. Once again, the spiritual business empress is not wrong.
Gratitude cures depression, soothes anxiety, increases oxytocin, reduces cellular inflammation, expands happiness and all manner of other mental and physical benefits. It’s been proven to build resiliency, ward off burnout and encourages the development of patience, humility and wisdom. It’s such a simple and effective way to stimulate betterness in life all round.
A regular gratitude practice shifts our egocentricity away from our woes/worries/panics/fears/etc onto the subject we’re grateful for. It stimulates positive emotions. Apparently it’s self-perpetuating too so as we practice gratitude more regularly our awareness of what to be grateful for expands and thus our time spent in gratitude cyclically expands too.
Being grateful also brings us beautifully into the present. Being present is where peace lies. All there is is now and the more often we ground ourselves in the now the more consistently zen we’ll be even when out of the mindful state and back buzzing in our worlds. And we all know how essential mindfulness is to thrive today.
My Favourite Ways to Live a Grateful Life
1. Journal about things, people, or situations for which you are grateful. I end my daily(ish) journal entry with 3 things that have warmed my heart today from the robin bobbing on the branch outside my kitchen window as I made my morning brew, to the fantastic work a colleague produced over the weekend to the kind stranger who let me get on the train first. I take a moment to bask in the delicious memories and send love to the feathery hopper, colleague and stranger. It truly warms the cockles.
2. Send a thank you note. Hand written ones are best, but even an email, text, whatsapp are tingly ways to get the gratitude flowing. An industry colleague told me recently she still has the thank you card I sent her a decade ago gushing about an amazing day at the races she organised for us.
3. If a dark cloud is descending and you’re swirling and whirling in negativity, stop and think of someone you’re grateful for. Go deep into the thinking until you’re fuzzy with love and good feelings. If you’re drawn back to the swirl, consciously go back to the person you’re thankful for and embalm yourself in all that’s wonderful about them. Get out of your self-traumatising intensity and flip to thinking kindly about that someone else.
4. Tell people you’re thankful. Tell your boss you appreciated the summer party fun. Tell your sister you really loved the present she gave you. Tell that seamstress she did an amazing job making your new dress fit perfeclty. Tell the chef the meal was extraordinarily good. If you feel it, say it. (Naturally, say it meaningfully, no smarm please.)
5. Be mindful of your five senses. How does each enhance your life?
6. Be a grateful gazer. Be on the lookout for opportunities to feel grateful. Your son enraptured by his woodcarving kit toiling happily on the lawn. Your freshly mowed lawn. The blue sky at last.
7. Give something up. We tend to adapt to newness; sometimes it’s a good idea to give something up so that we can increase our appreciation of it.
8. Get context. Think about what your life would be like if a specific positive event hadn’t happened. Write all the decisions and events that would have been different in your life. For instance, what if you didn’t meet your spouse? What if you didn’t get the dream job you have now? What if you hadn’t stopped a particular bad habit?
9. Meditate on Gratitude. Deliberately include it within your meditation ritual at frequent intervals. It brings that present moment awareness to the art of gratitude itself.
10. Be thankful for what’s reliable and predictable in your romantic relationship. It’s not about the splashy gestures, but the solidity of love expressed daily. Appreciate it.
When I count my blessings in my nightly journalling, I find myself smiling, cheeks chubby with glee. I can’t help myself. The joy bubbles up and I get happy. There is such a rich array of substance to be grateful for in every single day. Become aware of it more mindfully and I promise that grace will abound. The struggles will diminish as the wonder of it all effervesces soothingly. How sweet the sound indeed, Amazing Grace, I’ll meet you there in that smooth and pleasant serenity.
As ever, this article is written freely with love from me to you to encourage you to flourish. Please subscribe and share and if you’d like to read more of my work, I have written a couple of books and many more articles you may enjoy and grow from. To work together, let’s chat. Thank you, Bianca x
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