Each time I’d make a fuss about drinking the milk offered to me at the breakfast table, my mother would exclaim how there are children on the streets who have to spend an entire day empty stomach. The three year old Nandita never understood this correlation and she fails to understand it even as a 20 year old. But whenever my mother would use it, something inside of me would cringe; I’d feel that I wasn’t valuing what I had and I’d end up emptying the glass till the last drop.
But along with this milk, what I would also gulp down was a ‘lesson’ that’d become hardwired into my conscience and would be applied when during my teenage years,
I’d clutch tightly to,
my health each time I witnessed the sight of people coughing blood or having their skin stitched,
my boyfriend each time I saw a friend going through a break up,
my books each time I saw a child beg on the streets,
and most importantly,
my life each time I heard the news of someone’s death.
This lesson was to feel a sense of protectiveness and gratitude towards whatever I had (mostly/only) when I witnessed someone suffer from a loss.
The kids on the street continued to sleep without food in their bellies ,the woman in the hospital continued to spit blood onto the white marble of the hospital basin, the friend continued to write letters smeared with pain and anguish and the family of the deceased continued to have sleepless nights. But instead of trying to reduce some of this suffering,you know what I chose to do?
Clutch onto what I had, even more tightly.
Our gratitude must not come from the lack of something which the other suffers from, but from being content about that something which we have. In such a manner, we can ensure that our gratitude does the stem from the ill of someone.
There are endless number of ways to begin your journey with gratitude. Here’s one of them that we encourage at Happy Ho-
Step 1: Purchase 365 Thank You notes along with some colourful sketchpens, crayons, stickers & sparkle. Unleash the first grader inside of you!
Step 2: Keep the notes somewhere close to your bed.
Step 3: Each night, before going to sleep, think of that one person to whom you are thankful, for an act either big or small, and thank him/her, using your words & this note (not to forget getting creative with all the items the first grader bought in Step 1; one never gets too old for a little bit of sparkle!).
Step 4: Hand the note over to that person the next day. Or slide it under their pillow or inside a book they are reading.
Step 5: Follow steps 1-4 for at least a month, for the whole practice to become a habit
By following the above mentioned steps, I’ve been able to expand my gratitude to others and not just keep it to myself. I’ve sent thank you notes to family, friends, colleagues & my little golden retriever. I’ve returned the warmth shared with me by a waiter, librarian (ofcourse, I slid her note in a book I was to return), counsellor & an air hostess.
I’ve shown my deep appreciation for invitations, presents, shared moments of silence, fulfilling conversations, introductions made at parties, flowers delivered to my doorstep and many other little acts of kindness.