But now I’m immensely grateful every time I experience a bout of homesickness.
I know it sounds strange, but bare with me.
I’ll admit that returning to Hong Kong after Christmas was difficult. I cried all day that first week back. Just ask my husband, James.
The weather was disgustingly cold and foggy (read, polluted). Plus I’d left my beautiful smiling friends, loving family and a brilliant Australian Summer.
To get my fix of home I would constantly watch Australian TV shows like ‘Love My Way’ and ‘Rake’. I would hit pause to stare at the beach scenes where my sister lives or longingly gaze at Sydney CBD shots with David Jones in the background, the department store I would frequent in my lunch breaks.
I was that homesick that at one point I even thought I could have a long distance marriage and I’d move back home. Mum and dad had recently retired, so I thought I could be their new roommate! They would LOVE that, right? (Although, I could hear my dad saying ‘It wasn’t that long ago we got rid of you!’).
Surprisingly after a week I stopped crying and got on with things.
So how did I turn from a snotty-nose, crying mess to embracing my new life?’
The secret is the simple, but profound practice of gratitude.
I’ve practiced gratitude over the last three years, and I can tell you without getting all spiritual, it really does help to create a sense of wonder and appreciation for life.
During that tough week I made it my mission to say ‘thanks’ for absolutely everything in my life.
The good and the bad….and during that time, it felt all bad, trust me!
There is nothing like living in a foreign country to make you realise how much you appreciate everything back home. From drinking water straight from the tap, conveniently buying non ‘fairy-floss’ bread to curing your hang over with a dip in the ocean.
When you’re out of your comfort zone in any life situation you immediately think of how great your comfort zone actually was.
But on the flip side, you also start to count your blessings in your newfound way of life.
Developing an “attitude of gratitude” isn’t just a pop psychology trend.
Many studies have shown that practicing gratitude is linked to an overall better quality of life.
So here I share with you five simple ways you can practice gratitude on a daily basis.
Each morning after I meditate I write in my journal at least six things I am grateful for. This process can be as quick or lengthy as you please.
You can bullet point a list of things that could include an awesome conversation you had with your best friend, a challenging yoga class, a delicious apple you ate for lunch. Or you could go a bit deeper and write a few paragraphs counting your blessings.
Being tactile and putting pen to paper really helps to show you how abundant you are, which in turn boosts your mood.
Before I go to sleep each night I run through in my mind everything I am grateful for.
Alternately, if you’re keen to sleep as soon as you hit the pillow, why not use your work commute to silently give thanks for all the cool things you have in your life.
I use to sit on the bus in Sydney, and instead of playing mindlessly with my iPhone, I would silently create a new gratitude list, trying to pick new things to appreciate every day.
Why not share what you’re grateful for with your loved ones or friends? During your dinner conversation ask your partner what he is grateful for in his life.
N.B. I suggest you explain the point of this question before asking, otherwise if your partner is anything like mine he’ll look at you strangely and probably say something inappropriate!
But it’s worth a try!
Another great way to express gratitude is to start conversations with your girlfriends where you share highlights and wins you have all experienced during the week.
It’s not bragging, it’s an opportunity for you to create high-vibeing energy and celebrate together (and then you can share your crazy boss stories or whinge about your partner!).
Often we get so caught up in our daily life that we overlook the small but significant things people do for us.
It might be the local barista who helps you get your caffeine fix each morning, the security guard who always opens the door for you or your husband who buys groceries two days in a row because he knows you hate the supermarket… and he actually works 5 days a week (THANK YOU Jimmy)!
It’s important to not take those small gestures for granted and to always acknowledge them with a heartfelt ‘thank you.’
Do you have a work colleague, family member, mentor or old friend who has made your life brighter? Have you ever told them this?
Why not take some time to sit down and hand write notes of thanks and express your gratitude for the difference they have made in your life.
Research by Martin Seligman has shown that writing a letter of gratitude and then hand delivering the letter and reading it out loud to the recipient has profound benefits that can last weeks.
Pay attention to how writing this letter and then reading it makes you feel. I can guarantee both you and the recipient will feel happier and more optimistic.
I have a few gratitude letters in the works and I’m super keen to express my appreciation and spread some sparkly love!
Over to you!
Have you ever felt stuck in a funk and pulled yourself out of it? Do you have a gratitude practice you would like to share?
I would love to hear from you in the comments below!