Once upon a time there was a shy and quiet octopus.
He nearly always went about on his own because, although he wanted to have lots of friends, he was too self-conscious.
One day, the octopus was trying to catch a very slippery oyster. Before he knew it, he had tied himself into one massive knot, and he couldn’t move. He tried with all his strength to wriggle free, but it was no good. In the end, despite the great embarrassment he felt at being seen in such a tangle, he had to ask for help from the passing fish.
Many fish swam past, ignoring him, but one very kind little fish offered to help to untie all those tentacles from all those suckers.
The octopus felt heartily relieved when he was finally set free, but he was so shy that he didn’t dare talk to the fish and make friends with him. He simply thanked the fish, and quickly swam off. Later,
the octopus spent the whole night thinking that he had wasted a great opportunity to make friends with that very kind little fish.
A couple of days later the octopus was resting between some rocks, when he noticed that everyone around was hurriedly swimming past. He looked into the distance and saw an enormous fish coming over to feed in that area. The octopus quickly hid; then, peeping an eye out from his hiding place, he saw that the huge fish was chasing the kind little fish who had untied him.
That little fish really needed urgent help, but the big fish was so dangerous-looking that no one dared to go near.
The octopus, remembering how the little fish had helped him, felt that he had to do whatever he could to come to his aid.
There are a variety of things that can stir up positive feelings of heartfelt appreciation within us.
Gratitude is a positive emotion similar to appreciation which is felt after being the beneficiary of some sort of gift that is not necessarily deserved.
Gratitude is deeper than a well thought out ”thank you” that often leaves the other person feeling pretty good. It is a strong feeling which we reflect on when we receive a gift that was not given in some sort of reciprocal sense. However, gratitude can be displayed to apologize, make amends or because it’s actually an intrinsically rewarding process. Simply being grateful for being alive after all we’ve been through, is a great way to motivate us to seize the day.
Gratitude is a selfless act done unconditionally to show our appreciation, regarded as a dispositional state which can be developed with constant practice of thankfulness. Gratitude is a character strength which can be very contagious and easy to cultivate.
The feeling of gratitude begins when we acknowledge the abundant availability of goodness in our lives in detail. Gratitude is an empowering state of a “yes to life” attitude, we get to honestly affirm that life is worth living. Then we can begin to recognize that the source of the blessings we have benefited from is actually from a higher power. We can work to only be grateful to an external entity another person or God, for the lessons learnt and how far we’ve come.
Taking cognisance of our lowest moments, best moments and everyone who helped us on our way up. Expressing our appreciation can really improve our overall sense of well-being. People who express their gratitude tend to be more open, willing to forgive others and less neurotic. Gratitude proves to be a powerful tool for strengthening interpersonal relationships, promotes connection and satisfaction.
This evident link between the mind and body was further emphasized through a research in 2015, which showed that patients with heart failure, who completed gratitude journals showed reduced inflammation, improved sleep, better moods and reduced symptoms of heart failure after only 8 weeks.
Gratitude isn’t just a routine, it’s a way of life which demands us to consciously notice all that is present and abundant, from the tiniest things of beauty to the grandest of our blessings in appreciation. We can learn to focus our attention on and acknowledge that life – no matter how challenging, is a gift. Gratitude makes us aware of the available opportunities to grow and extend our learnings with compassion to others.
Gratitude is supported by conscious meditation and daily practices to be applied to our behavior and other aspects of our lives. Small arts of gratitude everyday can uplift our spirit and help make a difference in our world.
Let me end with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson…
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
And so, without hesitation, the octopus shot out from the rocks, like a ray. He put himself right in the path of the giant fish, and before the fish could do anything about it, the octopus had shot out the biggest jet of ink of his life. He grabbed the little fish, and swam off back to hide in the rocks.
Everything happened so fast that the big fish had no time to react. However, he soon recovered from the surprise. Off he went to the rocks, looking for the octopus and the little fish. Now he really wanted to gobble them down!
Soon, though, he began feeling a terrible itch; first in his gills, and then in his fins, and then all over his body. It turned out that this giant fish had a very artistic nature, he adored colours; and the octopus’s dark ink had given him a terrible allergy!!
So the big fish swam away, irritated all over.
As soon as he was gone, all the fish who had been hiding came and congratulated the octopus for being so brave. Then the little fish told them all how he had helped the octopus a few days earlier, but he had never known anyone be so grateful that they would end up doing something so dangerous.
Hearing this, the other fish discovered how nice the shy octopus was, and everyone around was keen to be the friend of such a brave and honourable octopus.