Last night, my son and I were sitting together, doing our own work. While I was busy chatting with my friend on WhatsApp, he was wasting time over his homework. Deeply engrossed in my work, I suddenly heard the boy say, “thank you.”
When I asked him what he thanked me for, he replied that his words were not aimed at me, rather he was thanking his own “brain” for reminding him about a project that was scheduled for the next day.
My initial labeling of my son’s behavior was “cute.” But the moment my head hit the pillows, the first thought that struck me was that I should be thanking myself too. For my day would not have been complete without me sticking by me.
Which brings us to the topic of self-gratitude
Have you ever pushed a door open and thought about it –thought about you pushing the door open? Or, have you eaten a meal and thought about it – thought about how everything within your body is processing the food and converting it into energy?!
How much do we think about what it takes to makes us work?! And how much time do we spend thanking ourselves over a job well done?!
Right through evolution, our internal organs too have been constantly evolving along with us. They have enabled us to eat and digest meat just because we liked how it tasted. As we contribute to higher pollution levels, our organs too have developed the ability to flush out toxins at higher levels. And the brain has transformed into a lean mean information machine simply because we were bored of enough, and wanted to do more, learn more, see more.
Our body keeps us going, continuously pushing itself so we can remain satisfied.
That deserves gratitude!
But what exactly are we showing gratitude to?
It takes batteries to keep the clock ticking, electricity to keep the lights on, wind to keep the mills churning, water to keep the plants growing, and food to keep us working. Whether it is batteries, electricity, wind, water or food; everything contains the same thing, although in different forms. And this “thing” is called energy.
So, when we are expressing self-gratitude, we are thanking the energy that keeps the factory that is our body in working order. At the same time, since this energy enters our body through air, water, and food, we are also indirectly thanking the greater energy that surrounds us. When we begin thinking about this, we will eventually lead ourselves into showing gratitude towards others.
How does self-gratitude work?
When we are kids, we are all coded into healthy habits without parents exasperatedly repeating things like “brush your teeth twice a day, have a bath once a day.” When things get repeated, they become a habit. Once the brain accumulates the habit, it sets off a timer to remind us about this habit. That is how we end up brushing our teeth in the mornings and night.
Now, think of how getting into the habit of expressing gratitude to ourselves will help us. Even as we thank our body every day, we are in reality, only reminding us to think about us. And look out for us. When we let out a relieved prayer thanking ourselves for keeping us sane through the day, we are, in the process enabling a code within the brain that will always watch out for our mental well-being.
Likewise, when we thank our stomach for digesting food, we are setting a note in the brain to keep us guided towards healthy eating habits.
What all of this self-gratitude eventually leads us towards, is better health.
That’s great! But how do we practice self-gratitude?
Right before bed-time
Bed-time is my favorite time because it usually brings an assurance of peace, however hard the rest of the day might have been. It is also the time during which most of us have habituated ourselves into letting out a prayer. So, bed-time is the best place to get into the practice of expressing self-gratitude.
Put you first
When I was a child, I would pray every night to God and request him to keep everyone cool and ensure peace and prosperity all around. Just to appear unselfish, I would always ask for myself only towards the end of the session. Up until today, I have always been able to make time for myself only after I have done stuff for others. There is the itch that keeps nagging me into putting others before me, and then the same itch transforms into frustration and complains that I am not focusing on me.
Although unwittingly, what I ended up doing, through my prayer session, is, code my brain into thinking for me only after it has done thinking for everyone else. And everyone else includes everyone in the whole wide world because universal peace was what my prayers began with. Now, it will take some serious unthinking for me to get my brain to put me as priority.
Unleash your imagination
I am a child of imagination. Needless to say, my conversations with me are quite colorful indeed. My son, on the other hand, suffers from an unnecessary bout of reality. So, when I taught him to show gratitude to himself every night, I had to picture out the complete scene to him.
If you are like me, expressing self-gratitude will become anything from an exciting adventure to a dreamy sequence. But don’t fret if your imagination does not account for fantasy. Since the thought of gratitude is something that is happening inside your head, it still stays an imagination.
Word it generously
My father’s words of praise stagnated at a standard “very good” phrase, a characteristic trait that my son seems to have inherited with his standard “nice” monotone. Standard dialogues carry the threat of turning a delightful conversation with yourself into an act of monotony and boredom. When it is time to thank yourself, pick out your acts that you were specifically impressed with that day. The minute you do that you will find your colorful thankful phrases flowing through.
Feel for you
The action of gratitude, whether it be for yourself or for others, should always arise out of a feeling of gratitude. It is always the emotion that is the root of energy. Take a break when you think your self-gratitude has dropped into a boring state. Cool your heals for a while and then get back into the groove. You will realize that the best thing that you will be thankful for is being you.
Splatter self-gratitude during wakeful hours
Once you have set up a simple bed-time routine of practicing self-gratitude, slowly begin spilling it over during the day-time too. You can do it when you meet the deadline, show up on time, select the right dress to wear for the party, or even when you come up with that dinner menu. When you start doing this, you are also slowly coding your brain into coming out with the right solutions during the right moments. Because the brain “gets” your appreciation as a token for repetition.
Display your gratitude
It is one thing to say “thank you,” but it is another level to actually “show” it. So, how do we do that? How do we show thankfulness to the energy that keeps us moving? The best way to display self-gratitude, is to ensure our well-being. So, let’s eat right, drink right, sleep right, and act right.
Here’s to getting in tune with your energy by practicing self-gratitude!