Hey there, lovelies! Can you believe its already almost spring? This winter felt like it would never end! I can’t help but feel grateful for the beautiful weather we’ve had lately here in Ohio; the cool crisp Springtime air filled with birdsong and the pretty crocuses starting to bloom make Spring feel that much closer!
I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve felt really good lately. At first, I thought it was just because of the weather, but as I started thinking about it I realized that it was something else entirely.
The better weather has definitely helped me feel better, but it isn’t the cause of it. In fact, I think I would have a hard time appreciating the weather if I wasn’t already feeling good! Like, it’s pretty dang muddy out, and there are those pesky spring showers, but I don’t even care. It’s all so beautiful!
So if it isn’t the weather, what is it that’s making me feel this nice? This time last year I was pretty miserable, to put it lightly. What changed? Well, a couple of things!
One of the most obvious changes is that it’s my first Spring out of class. Part of me thought I’d miss college, but that part of me was a fool! But still, I didn’t even feel this good on the day that I was handed my degree, so what gives?
So finishing school and better weather have had something to do with it, but they’re not the main reason I’ve been in such a good mood. I’ve narrowed it down to one thing, to one daily change I’ve made since graduating.
Change Doesn’t Always Just Happen
Seriously, if we were all able to just stop and smell the flowers, to really appreciate the small stuff in life, we’d all be a lot happier. Everyone can gain that sort of appreciation, but it takes time and practice.
There are so many ways to practice gratitude, but today we’ll only be talking about one of those ways. Anyone can do it, and it doesn’t require anything other than your attention and your intention. You don’t have to be religious to do it, though most people who do it are religious. Today we’ll be talking about prayer!
What is Prayer?
Prayer is self-help and appreciation. Prayer is admitting that you need help. It’s about something bigger than ourselves. For religious folks and non-religious folks alike, it’s about communicating with a Higher Purpose. Maybe that purpose is getting closer to G-d, maybe that purpose is the betterment of the greater good, but when we ask for help in prayer it’s an acknowledgment that, with a little help, we can make things better.
It’s looking for the answers within ourselves and also outside of ourselves. We can make a difference, but sometimes we need help to do it. Nobody can do everything alone. At its core, prayer is about Truth. Truth can be found inside of us and it can be found outside of us.
Prayer acknowledges that we can’t do everything on our own. Since we’re nice people, we don’t want to take the world for granted, right? We all probably have a friend who we only hear from when they need something, right? Don’t be that friend! Take the time to really appreciate life. It makes a huge difference, trust me. ❤
Two Basic Types of Prayer
Prayer is super simple, but also super not! Essentially, prayer has two functions:
- asking for help
- expressing gratitude
It can be spoken, written, sang, or just thought quietly! But it has to come from the heart, it has to be honest, and a conscious effort outside of prayer has to be made.
For example, I’ve been praying to find and keep motivation while job hunting. I can’t just pray to find a job and then not apply to any jobs, I have to put the effort in. Likewise, I don’t want to just pray to find a job if I’m not motivated to actually do it. So I pray for the motivation to get a job because I know that that’s more important, and I know that motivation is something that can’t just be given out.
Think of it like this. I want a job so I can earn money. I’m not just gonna pray for money because I need to work to earn it. And I’m not just gonna pray for a job because I only want the job so I can earn money. But motivation? Well shoot, that’d be pretty darn nice, huh?
I pray to better myself, not to change my situation. If the situation changes and I haven’t, then have I really learned anything? Have I really grown? Probably not!
Prayer vs Ego
I’ve never been good at asking for help, I thought it was weak. I’m an American, we’re supposed to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and be independent, right? We’re prideful. Maybe even embarrassed. We want to do things on our own, we want all the credit to go to ourselves, we work on building up and protecting our egos to a fault.
Sure, we learn from our mistakes, but we also learn from other people. Think of Bob Ross. He could talk about anything while he’s painting and just expect people to follow along based on sight alone. But he doesn’t. He explains to us just how to make the lake look like reflective water, he explains to us how to make clouds look soft and fluffy, he doesn’t just leave us to figure it out ourselves while he talks about his pet squirrel.
We don’t bring our egos to watch Bob Ross because we know he’s a better painter than us and because we have a solid goal; to paint a beautiful scene.
Asking for help involves listening. A lot of us don’t like to listen, we just wait for our turn to talk while planning what we want to say next. We can only really ask for help once we’ve decided to stop feeding our egos, when we trust the person we’re asking and when we’re prepared to listen.
But like I said, asking for help can be hard. That’s what makes prayer so important! When we pray we don’t need to worry about being embarrassed to ask for help, or about whether or not people think we’re weak for wanting help. We can pray totally alone, in private. Eventually, if we practice, praying and asking for help in private will get comfortable. Then, asking for help from others in person will be that much easier.
Practice Makes Perfect
A prayer routine will build a habit of looking into our hearts and finding out what we need. The ego hates this, but the ego isn’t our friend. The ego is fear-based, it’s selfish, and it’s just plain toxic. You don’t need it. I think it’s one of the main things that keep most people from being their authentic selves.
Be careful though. The ego can try and work its way into your prayers! Prayer won’t make you better than other people, but it can help make you better than you were yesterday if you’re honest with yourself.
But we have have have to balance our asking with our thanks. If we don’t, we could end up feeling entitled to what we ask for. Not cool.
Showing your gratitude will keep you humble, and staying humble will deepen your appreciation for like, everything. Be grateful that you woke up this morning, not everyone did. Be grateful for the food you eat. Even if you grew it all yourself, you didn’t make the soil and the seeds. Be thankful for everything in your life and focus on positive things before bed.
Food For the Soul
I can’t remember who said it, but prayer is food for the soul. Our physical bodies need food to be healthy, and our spiritual bodies need prayer to be healthy. Three times daily, and with snacks of course!
Think of your ego as a sickness. It will attack when it senses weakness and it’ll fight for power, so you’d better have a strong immune system. Gratitude is like the spiritual immune system. Just like how we set aside time every day to eat, we need to set aside time every day to focus on being grateful and show our appreciation.
The ego is fear-based, it’s selfish, and it’s just plain toxic.
Combat selfishness with selflessness. Appreciate things despite their relation to you. Believe it or not, there is a way to be selfish while expressing gratitude! Have you ever know someone who only said “thank you” because they wanted people to see what a ‘good person’ they were? That’s totally feeding into the ego! It’s still good that they show appreciation, but they’re ultimately cheating themselves of a deeper level of experience.
Grateful Prayers Are About Feeling
Honesty is key when showing gratitude to others. But you should also appreciate things that don’t have to do with others! Sometimes showing appreciation is as easy as just enjoying life.
I like to sit outside and feel the breeze and smell the flowers, and to do it with all my heart. Enjoy things, and enjoy them deeply. Eat a little slower, really savor life and it becomes that much easier to appreciate it. Take the time to enjoy things. In fact, make it a habit! And while you’re enjoying things, think of how grateful you are for them. Recall all that pleasantness in prayer before bed and soon enough you’ll be finding enjoyment in more and more aspects of life.
Ask and You Shall Recieve
Have you ever heard of the Law of Attraction? It’s the belief that like attracts like. So a good attitude will bring you good things and a bad attitude will bring you bad things.
While that might sound like a load of New Age, hippie-dippy baloney, it leads to something very real and very much accepted in the scientific community.
The Placebo Effect.
Belief in the Law of Attraction might just cause placebo results. Just like how belief in crystal healing could be attributed to the placebo effect. But the placebo effect still yields results, so what’s the harm? It’s been proven to help. 😉
You don’t have to believe in a G-d to pray. You can believe in the Law of Attraction and pray to the Universe, the Powers that Be, your Ancestors’ spirits. Who you pray to is totally personal and totally up to you, babe. You’ll be fine just as long as you have faith. 💓
Thank you so much for reading! I just want to clarify here that while this post talks about happiness through prayer, I in no way intend to undermine the effectiveness of modern medication.