Gratitude Practice

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” 
Eckhart Tolle

Sometime back i got an invitation to a networking and sharing session by one of the most unique law firms in Malaysia, Chur Associates. Operating from an awesome building known as The CAstle, Chur Associates was founded by a fellow alumnus, the extremely colourful and energetic Chris Tan. He’s also earned the title The Maverick Lawyer for his unique approach to a rather bland industry. We’ll talk about Chris and Chur Associates in the near future because this post is not about this amazing lawyer, it is about what changed my life after leaving this session.

For this evening, Chris had invited managing partner of 500 Startups and Malaysia’s startup superstar, Khailee Ng. Khailee gave great insight into Malaysia’s tech scene and also his views on the future of Malaysia’s digital sphere. All the tech talk aside, when the opportunity arised for us to pose questions to Khailee, his answer to one of my questions changed my life…

Chris Tan & Khailee Ng

My business partner actually suggested this question prior to me attending the event and i agreed it would be great to learn from such a successful person.
“Do you have any daily rituals?” was the question posed, and without any hesitation Khailee answered, “i’ve always and continue to practice expressing gratitude every night before going to bed. I do it with my girl friend when we are in bed before we sleep”. Khailee went on to explain how having a gratitude practice contributed to his life and spoke about how he would share all the things that he was grateful for with his girlfriend and she would share what she was grateful for that day with him.

“i’ve always and continue to practice expressing gratitude every night before going to bed. I do it with my girl friend when we are in bed before we sleep”

My mum (she’s quite a nagger) has always reminded me since young to always speak positively and be grateful for what i have, constantly telling me that there are plenty of people out there who have a lot less than i do. (And mum is always right but we never acknowledge that often enough! I love you mum!) Then there are numerous studies and articles on the power of gratitude, i have read many of these articles and like most people in regards to everything we read, never acted on it nor put it into practice. I was going through a bad patch in my life at that time and that short evening with Khailee was perfect timing, his ritual spurred me to consciously and diligently try a gratitude practice. Now, this doesn’t mean that before this i was rude and never said Thank You! a gratitude practice is a conscious effort in taking note of simple pleasures and being grateful for everything you have.

“a conscious effort in taking note of simple pleasures and being grateful for everything you have”

So every night before i go to bed, i run through a list of 10 things i’m grateful for this day or the past couple of days or if something i feel really good about, i repeat it for a few nights. 10 things sounds like a lot to be grateful for but it really isn’t, as the fact that you are still breathing and reading this is already something to be grateful for. I reflect and express my gratitude for anything from a colleague stepping up and helping me with work, a pitch win, a compliment from someone, to the wonderful coffee i had in the morning. I’m grateful everyday that my family is healthy and happy and that there were clear blue skies this morning. I am constantly looking for simple pleasures and counting my blessings. On the first night i didn’t think much of it, by the second night i started to take note and noticed that i slept better and woke up happier. Before i was having sleepless nights, constantly worried about the issues at hand and at work i’d have trouble focusing on tasks, frequently thinking about all the should-haves and what-ifs. When i started taking note of all the things i am grateful for, i was able to have a clear peaceful mind, to see things from a new positive perspective, to make better decisions, and most importantly to let go of things. As the days went by i began to see that the problems i was facing and issues i was dealing with weren’t as a big a deal as i had initially thought them to be, and i was able to focus on what mattered. Since i started my gratitude practice, i noticed i complain less and was much happier with how my life had turned out.

I figured that if having a gratitude practice before i slept every night made such a big difference in my life, what if i did it more frequently? Thats when i started to practice what i’d like to call the ‘art of overwriting’, consciously replacing negative self-talk and thoughts with gratefulness. The bitterness, anger, or worry is replaced with the joy of having. Every time someone says or does something that ignites any form of negative thoughts in my head or anything that creates anxiety, i immediately think of 5 to 10 things i am grateful for and i can feel my heart rate slow down and a smile appears across my face. On some serious occasions i would have to run through that same list a few times!

There are so many proven studies that highlight the benefits of practicing gratitude. We just need to make a small conscious effort to recognise all the abundance that we already have, seek out the simple pleasures and watch how our lives become so much better.

So what are you grateful for today?

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Melody Beattie


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