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Building Transforming Habits: Gratitude

October 30, 20234 min read

Stop and Smell the Roses


1. To relax; to take time out of one’s busy schedule to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life. 

Working on my house by painting, repairing concrete, gutters and more is a bit dirty, sweaty and tiring, but finding a moment to appreciate Life is key. 

Right next door, two old neighbors, Bill and Caroline, who’ve both since passed away, planted a whole row of roses on the property line.  

I’m am grateful as I got to enjoy them over many years. 

One rose bush is particularly vibrant with its oranges, yellows and reds, reminding me of so many positive elements.

The warmth of fire.

Streaks of a sunset.

The flame of freedom. 

Time to stop and "Smell the Roses"

This expression is so common these days but do cliches - often overlooked by their familiarity - offer us great advice?

The expression “stop and smell the roses” is not just about flowers or nature.  It’s a whole lot more.

The idiom encourages one to be mindful.  You should take time for your self to live life with deeper gratitude for the world around us.  In addition, the entire focus on the moment builds great presence in The Now.

Being present in Now, is key to a better life. 

Gratitude as Your Daily Medicine

A few times a day, I will just take a moment – might be one or two minutes tops – and see a beautiful creation of nature.  And be very grateful for the eyesight that allows me to enjoy it.  In this way, I create a moment of Beauty and Gratitude.  

In this instance, the fiery red roses were the match lighting up the fire of gratitude. 

Why?  What’s the point?

While we embrace life and its challenges with newfound energy every day, we have the amazing ability to look inwardly at our lives in order to better appreciate them. Finding gratitude for all of the blessings that we have been given often takes conscious effort and hard work but it is a journey which will ultimately lead us to true appreciation of life. However easy it may or may not be determined by each individual person one thing remains certain: developing an attitude of thankfulness towards life can bring tremendous joy and peace into our daily routine. 

Gratitude creates very strong physical responses in our pre-frontal cortex. Generated inside our bodies, this affirmation creates a feeling of goodness and warmth, generates stronger relationships amongst family and friends too.  

Gratitude can be spontaneous, but what if it were a practice?  I have a gratitude bottle which was an old Full Quart whiskey bottle from my grandparents where I put in a little paper and think about it once a week.  If it’s full, then I empty the bottle and start over. 

If Gratitude is a practice, then what are the benefits of this habitual practice?

  • Recognizing that you have a positive outcome or moment.  

  • Generating happiness for better physical and psychological health. 

  • Curbing negative emotions by shifting focus away to positive moments. 

  • Reduce stress, less pain, create a strong immune system. 

Negative emotions, such as cynicism, envy, resentment, etc.,  bring on depression, anxiety and more.  Regret is looking into and dwelling on the past while anxiety is caused by worrying about the future.  Gratitude and smelling the roses is in the present.  

How does one feel more gratitude as a practice?

Enjoy a moment in nature, a pet, your garden or even a beautiful blue sky.  Take a deep breath and feel contentment. 

Michael’s Gratitude Bottle which he watches ‘fill-up’ every days

Create a gratitude jar - and watch it fill up with all the elements you have to be grateful for which can include past experiences, loved ones, a favorite musical instrument, the ability to hear, see, touch and even walk.  You can also gain gratitude by writing 'thank you notes' to other people, keep a journal of moments of gratitude which gains momentum as your list grows.  This is particularly powerful as you see a long list of gratitude in your life. 

Develop an Outlook in the Present

Living with a sense of gratitude is key to finding fulfillment and joy in life. It is the first step to appreciating all the wonders that come with being alive, but many times this important tool can become lost in the hardships we face. We often take for granted what gives us strength, assurance, resilience and peace. 

Therefore, it's necessary to look within ourselves as well as among those around us so that we may constantly direct our focus towards people who give us love and hope rather than disappointment or pain. With a renewed outlook aided by gratitude therefore comes an appreciation for life’s simple pleasures which leads to greater understanding of one’s purpose in this world. 

Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, citizens, freedom fighters, martial artists -- no matter who you are - developing your personal gratitude through reflective moments will help shape better relationships with yourself as well as everyone around you -- driving one closer towards achieving ultimate peace and joy found through giving thanks every day!

Stop and Smell the Roses.

With the right mindset, you will find them everywhere.

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Michael Mandaville

Michael is a writer, filmmaker and dedicated World War II historian who studies martial arts, action films and is learning more about VFX every single darn day. Oh and a Scholar Warrior

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