In 2008, I volunteered in Ghana, and my definition of gratitude changed forever. The people of Anomabo, the village where I taught, had the least monetarily of any people I had met, but at the same time, they had the greatest riches I had ever seen: profound appreciation for the simple.
The most amazing gratitude-filled moment happened when I gave a little boy in my class an orange crayon. Each child, in fact, was given one crayon; they were mesmerized with them. And when I told this little boy, named Nelson, it was recess time, he smiled up at me and continued colouring. Colouring with his single orange crayon was more important than going outside: more important than seeing his friends. That moment and the memory of Nelson’s smile changed the depth of my gratitude for everything.
I realized after that trip that gratitude is an integral part of well-being. In fact, gratitude has the power to change our very lives. Recent scientific studies have even quantitatively proven that grateful people are happier & healthier people. (http://www.upworthy.com/scientists-discover-one-of-the-greatest-contributing-factors-to-happiness-youll-thank-me)
What I was reminded of during my time in Ghana was the necessity of being thankful for the most simple. It often becomes easy to forget what we have already: that we really need no more.
As a teacher to children & adults, I have frequently shared Ghana’s lessons. And now let me share some with you:
Be thankful for the most basic in your life: the things easily forgotten. Ponder them. Really connect with them. Journal them:
Today, I am grateful for a hot cup of coffee, my toddler’s kisses, holding my love’s hand, a full belly, good eyesight, my breath, the colour sky blue, & gorgeous winter sunshine.
Now, after pondering what you are thankful for, really feel your gratitude intensely. Let me give you an example of that intensity. Our son still doesn’t sleep through the night, and when he wakes me up, I could easily go down a very different road with my thoughts. But I don’t. I remember the 3 miscarriages we had before Alexander. And with that thought, his waking us up is a gorgeous reminder that we have a beautiful little boy in our lives. When I feel gratitude that intensely for the babe in our lives, I often cry because it is so palpable, so overwhelming. Allow yourself to feel gratitude that deeply. And tonight before you drift off, think of everything that went right with your day. Think of all that is good in you. Bask in that, and bask in the greatest miracle of all: you being alive.
With love & gratitude,
Jennifer Alexander is the passionate and zenned out founder, and teacher at Infinite Life Learning & mind detox practitioner/ mindfulness coach at Jennifer Elizabeth Alexander. With almost 20 years teaching expertise, she received Canada’s highest teaching honour in 2009. She has inspired women worldwide to live mindfully & love themselves more. Her work has been featured on Gail Vaz-Oxlade, in isla Organic and Wild Sister Magazine. She is sought after as a speaker & for interviews; her mindfulness classes, online course, and retreats are known for filling quickly. Jennifer teaches from the heart & her trainings inspire peace, joy, & self-love.