Gratitude at the End of the Year

Gratitude is such a simple way to access appreciation in your life. It can switch the mundane to the magical.

As the year comes to an end, I’ve started thinking about my year. Rather than setting goals and planning what I want to achieve next year, I decided to first spend time in gratitude.

Gratitude is such a simple way to access appreciation in your life. It can switch the mundane to the magical. Cultivating gratitude increases wellbeing, happiness, energy, optimism and empathy.  More importantly, when you show gratitude to the people in your life (not just at home, but at work too) it creates a kind of wonderfulness; a vibration that you can feel.

It has been an incredible journey for me this year. New milestones were reached and I’ve seen growth in almost every area of my life.

Of course there were many low points as well. It was rough sometimes and many times I couldn’t see the way forward. In moments like that, I just focus on taking small steps, and I take them in faith.

I avoid dwelling on my mistakes, flaws and insecure thoughts. There is no end if I choose to analyze and over-analyze on my thoughts – feelings – actions – words – behaviors – results. It’s a miserable place to live in – getting stuck in the past.

I consciously shift into states of gratitude and appreciation. I’m persuaded and convinced that they are the best place to be in.

I’m constantly reminded of the innate wisdom, infinite beauty and strength within everyone of us. We keep looking out there for answers because we forget about the God-given wellspring of resources flowing from within.

“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.” ~ Augustine

There’s just so much beauty – both in the physical world out there and the one in all of us.

Just last month, my wife and I flew to one of our dream destinations, the South Island of New Zealand (and celebrated our 10th marriage anniversary). It was like heaven on earth. Nicknamed as ‘God’s Own Country’, NZ is definitely the most scenic country I’ve ever visited so far. I captured thousands of photos and hundreds of videos. There were just too many “wow” moments, sights that took my breath away!

It was a self-drive tour as we journeyed most of the South Island. At the same time, it was also a journey of self-discovery, an inner journey, as an individual and as a partner to my spouse. I had awareness of what I liked and disliked. I caught waves of emotions that were surfacing in me, and their subtle link with my thoughts in the moment.

There’s so much we could learn from the nature surrounding us. For example, I saw this quote at Mount Cook, NZ:

“The river issues from the mountain and gathers confidence. It has the assurance of one who knows that it will return to where it belongs.” ~ Brian Turner

I looked back at my insecure thinking and lack of assurance, I realized that I sometimes forget the all-important thing: “Who do I belong to?” Or “Where will I return to?” These are spiritual questions that I’m coming to terms with.

The concept of God that I knew brought confusion and pain. I was trying to disassociate with what I used to know that didn’t work. I was working on my past.

As I stood at the edges of the bluest lakes I’ve ever seen and staring at those majestic mountains, I couldn’t help but be reminded that I’m one with the world around me. I’m made of the same stuffs as those beauties. The same Creator that crafted them made me. I’m a masterpiece crafted by the Master. This is the only concept of God that I need to know, and that’s enough for that moment.

I belong to him. That knowledge and assurance is my source of confidence. That’s my grounding.

When I was looking at the massive gorgeous mountains and lakes around me, my goals, dreams and aspirations became so small. My fears, pains and regrets seemed insignificant. It’s not that they didn’t matter anymore. It’s just that my perspective had been lifted higher.

Everything that was mine was stripped away – they don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Only feelings of appreciation and gratitude remained.

I became grounded. I reconnected with my grounding.

A lovely gratitude practice at the end of the year: Personal gratitude exercise

Here are a few things I have done to collect all of the moments and people I have gratitude for this year.  The thing about gratitude is that’s so much more than saying thank you. It’s about really feeling it.

Sit in stillness and take a moment to think back over this past year and remember the moments when people did things for you which really made a difference and send them gratitude.

Take a moment to think about the experiences that you have had this year with a clear focus of appreciation. Feel the flow of gratitude.

See gratitude on paper

With paper and pens (a bunch of colours of course) answer these questions:

This year I am most grateful for:
The five things I’m grateful for this year:
The person I am most grateful for is:
Three other people who touched me this year are:
The things I did this year for other people include:
The things I feel most blessed to have in my life now are:

Gratitude circle
With my team, we sat in a circle and had one person in the centre and told them why we are grateful for them. We were specific to moments, lessons and impact. We talked about how we are different, because of their impact in our lives. Maybe try this with your friends and family as well.

As one year morphs into the next, there are so many forgotten moments and people left unthanked who contributed to our lives. With these exercises, I hope the grace of gratitude invokes much abundance and love into your life – personally and professionally.

I’m stepping into the New Year freer and taller. I am not necessarily going in with a solid and comprehensive plan. But I have a clearer vision of who I am and where I’m heading toward.

That is enough.

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