As Easter approaches, there are certain traditions with which some of us get involved. One of them is the classic Easter egg hunt, where we go searching for chocolate treats, with a few clues to help us along the way.
Even if you have never done an Easter egg hunt or are not interested in doing one, this Easter weekend there are some life lessons we can learn from the elements contained within it.
When life is going well and things are on an even keel, we don’t have to try hard to feel happy. We have some momentum of joy and positivity and it takes a lot to dial this down. In other words, we don’t have to work to find the “treasure” in life. Conversely, when things are difficult and one or more areas of your life take a turn for the worse, we don’t have those safety nets to fall back on, and we find it harder to turn things around mentally and emotionally. We have to work harder to find the “happy” or even the “OK” and sometimes we just cannot locate it.
How do we find our way back to those better-feeling moments? One sure-fire way of doing this is to use gratitude as a tool and a strategy. Finding things to be grateful for will lead us back to that feeling of happy and joy – or at least contentment and calm.
So, instead of only going on an Easter egg hunt once a year, how about we go on a gratitude hunt every single day? Because when it comes to how we feel, the treasure in life lies in a feeling of gratefulness.
We often think of gratitude as something that happens only after something good occurs, when in fact it is the exact opposite. It is something we can create out of not much at all, something we can find proactively and something that comes with a guarantee of feeling better. It is helpful to get away from the “once I do/get/am .. I will be happier” and move towards “I am grateful now for…”
We can sometimes dress up being grateful as something for children or something of no importance, but our skill and ability to find and sustain a feeling of gratitude from almost nothing is associated with improved wellbeing.
So, what elements are useful to think about when we are planning our “gratitude hunt”?
Commit to the hunt
It is hard to try to be grateful when we are feeling down, low and unhappy. But after we try just once or twice to cultivate this habit, we start to see how much better we can feel, and how it doesn’t take a lot to find something, however small. We have to commit to trying this strategy. How can we do this? Ask yourself a question: do you want to feel a bit better in this moment? I am sure most of us would answer yes. If so, and if we can find enough love and kindness for ourselves, then we will try to start our gratitude hunt.
Read the clues
We are lucky in that we are presented with a lot of “clues” in our daily lives to which if we listen and take note of them, can help us find things to feel grateful for. What kind of clues? Our family, friends, loved ones, our health, the food we eat or the bed we sleep in, the sun shining, music, the fact we are here right now living, the kindness of others… I could list so many possibilities.
And that is the great thing: life is always presenting us with small, simple things to pick up and notice and in which to find the gratitude. This doesn’t have to come from the big stuff or the one-off stuff or from things we acquire in our lives – quite the opposite. The clues may be different for all of us, and may vary from day to day, but we can always find them.
Keep going until you find the treasure
Cultivating gratitude is a habit. And it is a habit that can form quickly and get stronger and more resilient. Keep going with your hunt for things to be grateful for. Stop and reflect on how that new habit is making you feel just a little bit better. And repeat. That “treasure” will be something you can then find more easily, at any time and in any circumstance.