Living gratefully

Last year, 2016, was a bit of a shocker in world politics and environment news. We lost a permaculture giant in Bill Mollison, and at many times it was hard not to feel dispirited with the general state of things. But it wasn’t all black, there were plenty of silver linings the world over, many tiny miracles in the garden and beautiful moments, be they fleeting or not, to be shared. That’s why this new year, we’re going to focus on living gratefully.

Living gratefully isn’t a practice that requires that you ignore the darkness of the world, or never feel ingratitude. Rather, the practice encourages a focus on seeking the good in things, whilst acknowledging the dark side of things and how this makes you feel. It is a path to “being the change you want to see” for those of us who seek progressive change, equality, happiness and peace, and another string to the bow of the mindfulness movement.

autumn leaves
Grateful living inspires us to see beauty and value in the small things

Living gratefully sits very nicely amongst the permaculture ethics, and has much appeal to those of us seeking to live a simpler life, where our happiness is less reliant on masses of material possessions. Practicing gratefulness involves valuing the marginal, small treasures in your life, valuing and caring for people (including yourself) and the things which sustain us. It is very much a “practice” in the way that mindfulness and meditation are too: it is not an end game in itself, but rather an ongoing work-in-progress with the goal that you, and those around you, will be rewarded with a greater sense of peace, compassion, sufficiency and abundance.

Sweet potato harvest in June in tropical Australia
A sense of abundance and sufficiency can come with a focus on gratefulness

Life is distracting, but practicing gratitude involves reflection and focus. Are you missing the small things of beauty happening around you while you’re plugged into your device, watching the worries of the world go by in high res? Or are you preoccupied with the minutia of every day life, and missing the big moments that are truly worth being occupied by? There are many ways to practice grateful living, most of which involve deep thought and reflection followed by action. Journalling, daily questions and meaningful rituals are all ways to incorporate grateful practice into your every day life, and shift your emotional energy and focus from worry and despair to generosity, kindness and compassion.

If living gratefully means giving the best of yourself to the world, even when times are tough, then that seems like a pretty great start to creating positive change in a world that so desperately needs it. Bring on 2017!

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