The moment you feel genuinely grateful will be a moment that is deeply embedded into your heart and stays within you for a lifetime!
When being grateful is something you've experienced and not just heard or read about - it will have a physical effect on you seemingly on a cellular level. A form of happiness has taken up residence in your cells and you begin to see the world differently. You feel things more deeply, you appreciate things more deliberately, you treat people more compassionately and you even taste food more vibrantly!
Life is never the same once you experience the true essence of what it means to be grateful. Life will never be the same as gratitude heightens your senses and your empathy for the earth.
I don't mean to sound overly dramatic, but it's true.
Gratitude. A catchy word that has become quite trendy lately I realize. Regardless of its new found popularity, I don't use this word lightly. I’ve learned that gratitude changes everything.
Last summer I had the opportunity to travel to India. Through the experience I can write about gratitude with much more clarity now than before as I now have my very own personal encounter with gratitude. I had heard the word thousands of times from teachers, read about it in books and my mom even has a “gratitude jar” in our kitchen - where we are supposed to jot down something we’re grateful for everyday! So I knew what the word meant… but India taught me what it was like to actually feel grateful.
If you've never been to a country like India, allow me to briefly explain what it's like to step off the plane there. You are immediately assaulted by the blistering heat and all the intense fragrances that it carries. There are people everywhere… and I mean everywhere! More people than I can remember ever seeing in one contained space. Your five senses are instantaneously on high alert and you can't help but be bombarded by all the frenetic energy and sounds coming from the streets. It was an avalanche of stimulation all at the same time - it was remarkable.
The purpose of me telling you these details is to help you envision the beautiful chaos that was Mumbai and explain that I was immediately grateful for my home and where I live without even trying to. Not because I wasn't thoroughly immersed in the moment or wishing I was anywhere other than right there, but it was simply a feeling that came over me. Gratitude was setting up a shop inside of me without even trying.
With Nalu Academy, I got a chance to visit India and meet students who are very excited to receive a piece of clothing that will keep them in school. Such a simple thing but it makes a huge impact in someone’s life.
I had developed a new appreciation for where I came from that I never could have found if it wasn't for that experience. Right there and then, gratitude was no longer just a trendy word or a trite caption my mom forced me to put in her jar. Being grateful was seemingly a physical emotion that I was just being introduced to and I liked it a lot! So needless to say the rest of my holiday in India was remarkable! What was even more life changing for me though was how that very specific feeling of gratitude was going to translate to life back home in California.
Entering back into the stratosphere of Orange County California was surprisingly nothing like I expected it to be. I had been away from home for the total of a month. So as you can imagine I really missed my friends seeing this trip consumed the better part of my entire summer. I yearned to go surfing, I craved my favorite sushi and I longed to go fishing! My three favorite pastimes. However, what I noticed about my new self was that I stopped for a moment and realized that I admired them for entirely new reasons - not just because I loved my friends or missed my favorite foods. It was because I realized that these things didn't exist in the same capacity in other parts of the world and not everyone gets the pleasure of experiencing them.
I am grateful that I am privileged enough to even be able to travel and enjoy trying cuisines on other parts of the world. I am even more grateful that I get to feel craving for my long time favorites when I was away. I appreciated them more because I was without them and they are special to my life here in California. There was a new feeling of acknowledgement and gratefulness that didn't exist before being without them. The luxuries in my life, like my bedroom or my laptop computer, took on an enhanced meaning for me.
Gratitude changes your life if you allow it to penetrate your heart. It'll all be slightly different for everyone, but the fundamental emotion will swell your heart and make life more worth living. This swell of love will eventually overflow and inspire you to spread the joy you feel.
I am so excited for other children to learn the fabulous side effects of gratitude now that there is Nalu Academy! Nalu Academy will teach you things you never knew you didn't know and then catapult you into the arms of thankfulness by changing lives… even your own!
I never went to India expecting to return with my life enhanced, but it's the gift that keeps on giving! I can't wait to go back and help more students stay in school.
Gratitude is contagious once you know the feeling of it - it's so extraordinary you won't want to keep it to yourself! Spread the wealth of gratitude - the world needs it!