The power of gratitude
I felt like it was about time I wrote a short piece on gratitude and travel. Two collective passions of mine, that once combined, light up the pathways of my future with glorious sunshine, rays of positivity & hope, that I will achieve all of the things I want to in life. My own feeling of gratitude that I have can sometimes be overwhelming. A genuine feeling of my heart wanting to burst through my chest, because I’m so lucky to have all that I have, and even more so for my ability to travel the world & my constant desire to.
Passions in life drive us. My passions of visiting other countries, being immersed in other cultures, surrounded by different faces, immersed in worldly landscapes, different foods and smells that all create this huge crescent like shape on my face – a smile. The feel of other currencies in my hand besides the great British pound, signifying that I am indeed in a different country, a new land. These are all things that light up my soul on a regular basis, and I’m hugely grateful for them.
When you close your eyes and search within yourself, what are you grateful for?
To me it seems the people that are most grateful for their life and for the things they have and adventures they have experienced are people that have been through difficult times. Myself included. Whether it’s a stressful career, relationship problems, or simply not knowing what your life will be or the direction you want to go in – all of these elements of daily living drive us to look for the positive and the good in every moment to lift us up, and re focus us on our journey. To drive us forward, with our strong hearts & even stronger shoulders, we look to gratitude to show us the way.
I am an avid fan of a gratitude journal, and have been for years – although admittedly sometimes when I am so busy and completely content I forget to be thankful and write down why I am.
I remember a TEFL course that I did in Thailand a couple of years ago that really imprinted this concept of gratitude even further into my mind. I was introduced to the “warm and fuzzies” that happened daily, whilst training to become an English teacher abroad. Now for those that are not aware, warm and fuzzies, are little notes of gratitude, of feedback, of recognition. Positive affirmations that send warmth through every cell in your body, and imprint a warm smile upon your heart.
My passport holder, that thing that holds my key to other worlds, also houses my warm and fuzzies that were given to me by classmates and friends whilst we all studied together in Thailand.
I love to read them. They transport me back, but also remind me to stay grounded & remind me to be thankful every day for even the smallest of things.
It makes me feel so happy and full of joy and contentment that people that were once strangers expressed their own gratitude for me in the way that they did. I’ve always vowed to share this exercise with my little nephews and eventually my own children, as I think it’s so important for presence & perspective in life, to realise the things that you are grateful for & to say thank you for them.
To feel gratitude is to change the wiring of your brain, first in the short term, but eventually for the long term memory. This isn’t spirituality but science. It imbeds a feeling of happiness, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. As my partner once told me, you should feel as happy cleaning or doing chores, stuck in on a rainy day, then if you are lazing on a tropical beach, surrounded by palm trees & the sound of crashing waves. I remember rolling my eyes & giving a little smirk at the same time. As I’m sure the majority of you are right now.
What I have come to realise, and what I think I always knew was, that this is the key. To feel grateful is to feel happy. Not the other way around. No matter where you are or what the circumstances.
My own personal love of travel gives me an all over feeling inside my bones of gratefulness. Being able to start my own business & really pull together my passions of travel, writing & helping others, fills me with gratitude. The adventures I know that are coming my way fill me with that feeling of gratitude, excitement and happiness.
Admittedly sometimes it’s harder to find what you are grateful for, but it will always be there. You just need to look in the mirror. You need to reflect. Perspective is everything. One life. One opportunity. We all know this to be true., and to be fact.
Feeling grateful can also incorporate things that have yet to happen to us yet. One thing that I feel so unbelievably grateful and happy for, is that I’m going to get to travel the world again.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful for city breaks and holidays, but this is BIG travel. Long term. With the person that I love. Last time I travelled the world for a year, out of a backpack, I did it solo. This time I’ll have him by my side. Both experiencing completely new countries, new adventures, new life lessons, new everything. I think about that daily, and it lifts me high enough to see the blue skies of London, on an otherwise grey, gloomy day. Gratitude and excitement combined are a game changer.
Think about what lifts you up? Is it the smile on your child’s face when they see you for the first time at the start of a new day? Is it a free parking space? An item of clothing that you’ve had your eye on for weeks, finally goes in the sale and you nab your size?
What about a loved one cooking you dinner, or bringing you a glass of wine/beer after a long day? Whatever it is, find it and feel grateful for it. Everyday. Let your mind and your heart take you to that place. That feeling is what will lead you to be your purest and best self. So embrace it.
If like me you’re grateful for travel, then think about how easy it is for us to actually travel in the 21st century. We have access to thousands of websites, with cheap flights, comparison prices on hotels, destination guides & photographs. The list goes on. Everything at our finger tips. The ability to save money – to think outside the box, to work abroad, to volunteer. All of these elements of travel are reasons to feel gratitude and say “Thank you” out loud.
I do – every day