How to be Grateful and Learn to Choose Gratitude

In this relatively new year, I have had a change in perception, which has further encouraged me to set my perspective. And to be perfectly honest, my secret to gratitude is wrapped up completely in that opening sentence. However I will keep writing, for the sake of clarity and also because you probably expect for there to be more than 21 words in this blog post.

To give you some context about why I’m talking about how to be grateful today, it might be best to start with why I've recently been thinking about the need to choose gratitude. This year has been an isolated one for me. I live by myself and since the start of the year that was 2020, I have literally been by myself. And when I say literally, I mean “literally”. I made the decision to live close to work, but that also meant living quite a distance away from my friends and family. So even when we haven’t been in lockdown, I’ve not been able to easily pop round.

Based on that, you might wonder why I'm saying these feeling of isolation is new to 2021. Well to clarify things for you, even though I have been alone for the last year of my life, I have not felt isolated. In fact, I have enjoyed solitude. Now I’ll have to ask that you forgive me and allow me some creative license with the English language. While these two words, “isolation” and “solitude” are technically and grammatically interchangeable, in my mind they have different emotions attached to them. When I think if isolation, I think of loneliness and segregation. Solitude on the other hand, feels like something that can be appreciated. It feels like quiet, deep breaths and relaxed muscles. Solitude feels like a choice.

And in the last few weeks, as I have felt more like I am not choosing to be alone, I have also felt less of my quiet solitude, but instead more and more isolated. I’m not sure what the trigger was, I think I had a moment where I wanted to see my nieces and nephews. And again, wanting to see them isn’t new. I have wanted to see them for the last year, but for some reason or another I had made the decision that it wasn’t the right time or the safest option for everyone involved. And I guess what’s new is that this time around I’m not making the choice to not see them, someone else is. The reason I can’t go round right now isn’t because of a choice I’m making. It’s due to the lockdown rules, because it is currently illegal for me to visit another household.

And the last three paragraphs are a backdrop of where I emotionally right now. With this newfound feeling of isolation comes a level of sadness, anger and frustration, or as I said in the opening sentence of this blog post “a change in perception”. But with this change in perception, instead of letting the negative emotions rules me, I have decided to “set my perspective” and to choose gratitude instead.

I have a video on my YouTube channel where I talk about how to be grateful in "all" circumstances. I haven’t experienced it "all" and let’s be honest, I don’t particularly want to, but I have had my own experiences and can say without doubt that there is always a reason to give God thanks. A reason to be grateful. In moments where I have been mourning the loss of a loved one, instances where I have been afraid and unsure of what comes next, or even just days where I am bone tired from adulting and life in general, I have found a reason to be thankful. All it takes is a decision to set your perspective. Once again, let’s go back to the opening sentence of this blog post, “I have had a change in perception, which has further encouraged me to set my perspective.”

And I’d like to focus on the end of that sentence, “set my perspective” because that is the secret to learning how to be grateful. Gratitude is all about perspective. Sometimes, people think that having a grateful mindset is all about trying to be positive about negative things and that just isn’t true. That’s just lying to yourself. Some things in life don’t feel good, whether it's building up a business only to find that it’s now at risk because a virus has somehow put the world at a standstill. Or whether it’s losing a loved one, long term unemployment or even getting gum stuck in your hair. There are some things that don’t feel nice and that’s okay. Having a grateful mindset does not mean being thankful for that. In fact, I’d encourage you to accept and process those emotions. And if you can find some positivity in the negativity, be grateful for that. But if you can’t, then don’t force it.

Learning to have a grateful mindset and choose gratitude is the ability to control your perspective. It is the ability to look at negative circumstances and process it. Instead of letting negativity be centre of your emotions, first of all stop, build a 360 degree view of your circumstances and acknowledge the positive. For example, right now do I still miss my family? Of course I do. Do I hate the fact that I can’t just go to see them? I most definitely do. However, instead of focusing on just that, getting a 360 degree view of the situation would also show me that even though I can’t hug them, at least I can video call them. At least I know that they are safe and well. In addition to that, I am also safe and well. This 360 degree view does not now mean that I am grateful that I can’t see them right now or that I suddenly like that I can’t see them. I still don’t like it, but I can say that I am grateful my loved ones are safe. I am grateful that I can call them and chat to them for a bit, then watch the kids ignore me when a show that they like comes on. It’s not exactly a hug, but it is something, so I choose to be grateful for that something.

In each circumstance, gratitude will look different, so you’ll have to figure it out for yourself. And it might not always be easy, but it’s worth the effort. I talk about this more in the short video below and I explain a daily practice that helps me maintain a grateful mindset. You can watch it below and let me know what you think in the comments. Last but in no way least, thank you. I am grateful you took the time to read this and I hope it helps you.


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