An Authored article by Mr. Niranjan Gidwani, Consultant Director | Member UAE Superbrands Council | Charter Member Tie Dubai | Hbr Advisory Council
Till the age of 30, even though I was under the influence of phenomenal parents and spiritual leaders, I was not consciously aware of living in gratitude as a routine habit. About three decades ago, from my coach Dr Steven Covey and from Dr Wayne Dyer I got the idea of actually practicing gratitude. The practice started by focusing a few minutes each day on what one is grateful for. Initially, it was not an easy exercise, but over time I got hooked, and for the past several years, I have taken about 10-15 minutes each day to focus on what I am grateful for. As I take my long morning walks, or while I am in the shower, or on a long flight, while driving, or while waiting to meet someone, I take time to think of all the things I need to feel grateful for. And if I can access my diary, and if it’s convenient, I also make it a point to jot down all those points of gratitude. I am aware that to a lot of people this may seem either too trivial, or utopian, or new age stuff, which is why many are dismissive of such a concept. But it works. Like magic.
Focusing on gratitude, over time, shifts one’s mind away from issues which are problematic or worrisome. It’s like any other form of discipline or habit. The more one works on it diligently and regularly, the more one begins to appreciate all the good and that which is working well, no matter how small or insignificant. So now, when a meal is delivered by an online delivery rider, one automatically begins to appreciate the large number of people involved in the whole act of that meal being made and given at the doorstep. Knowing well that many of them may never be able to afford that particular meal.
And slowly the list keeps growing. Gratitude towards parents and the life they gave, their unconditional love, how they taught to treat every single person with dignity and respect. Gratitude towards spiritual teachers who opened new doors to thinking and consciousness. Gratitude towards siblings, spouse and children, in-laws, friends, bosses and working associates. Gratitude towards several for their love, affection and friendship.
Gratitude towards many more for being very troublesome, difficult teachers, yet providing quality learning experiences. And of course, gratitude also for the addictive masala chai and the strong south Indian filter coffee. Even though today’s world talks about the ill effects of caffeine, small vices are needed and both the gratitude as well as the addiction will continue in all likelihood. Over time, one has got completely addicted to the daily exercise of reflecting on all those areas one needs to feel grateful for. The beauty about this practice is that no matter what faith, what belief system, what religion, what circumstances we come from, we can practice this self-discipline of expressing gratitude. Yet, to be utterly honest, it is easy to make a habit of thinking of or jotting down all those things for which one feels grateful.
Now comes the most difficult and challenging part. The other half of the battle. And that is to be able to live in the feeling of gratitude. One can say it with a lot of conviction that despite years of indulging in this practice, there are still phases and times when living in the spirit of gratitude is a huge challenge.
However, when we don’t discipline ourselves to practice gratitude in large measure, the firm belief is that we lower the quality of our lives, we lower the quality of our being, and we may involuntarily attract more of ill health and discomfort into our lives. The combination of technology, smart devices and artificial intelligence has brought us to a stage where we are at a very exciting and incredible confluence of events. Much of what we are seeing and experiencing now merely hints at the enormity of what is possible in the near future. To live in this new world, to adapt to the demands of the world that will emerge, we are all searching for new rules for living.
While we are finding faster ways to connect to each other globally via technology, more than ever, we will need to find better ways to tune into our inner technology. Somewhere, the society of our entire planet will need to access the wisdom of age-old traditions as a guidebook that has never really gone out of date. Somewhere there is also a growing misconception that we need to live in an “either-or” scenario. Actually, never more has the need been felt to create a strong “and” scenario of existence. A dynamic world. Building on it. Moving forward, while still holding on to the good, old and traditional parts.
Every day we make choices. And our choices could make a big difference to those around us. The way of discipline and exercise is not easy. Many of those who follow a disciplined exercise and diet routine end up cheating often. The same goes for expressing and living in gratitude. Every few years of working on it takes us to a higher level, and then we encounter spells of slipping and cheating in between. That’s expected. That’s normal. “What are you grateful for today?”