An attitude of gratitude for welcoming the Year of Ox

In the face of all the challenges and difficulties in the Year of Rat, most of us are looking forward to a new start in the Year of Ox.  At the end of the Year of Rat, it is the time for us to prepare for the New Year with an attitude of gratitude.  A movie released in 2001, “Amélie” is a romantic comedy portraying Amélie as a waitress engaging in a journey of bringing happiness to others.  Her mother was killed at her age 6 when a person committed suicide and landed on her.  With a lonely and unhappy childhood, Amélie left home at the age of 18.  Her altruistic journey started with returning an old metal box of childhood memorabilia hidden by a boy in her apartment decades earlier.  When the owner received the old metal box, he was in tears with all the memories retrieved.  The owner of the box, Bretodeau, reconciled with his estranged daughter and met his never-met grandson.  He was so grateful of being helped and vowed to make a difference in others’ lives.  As a result, Amélie decided to engage in a journey of bringing happiness to others in her life.

This movie inspired me twenty years ago.  Gratitude can act as a reinforcer for someone who received the “gift”, as well as for the giver.  The recipient may be touched and started to act in an altruistic way towards others. The giver may be motivated to express such kindness to others in the future.  In short, gratitude is the acknowledgment of goodness in one’s life.  It also related to the recognition of the sources of the goodness.  What factors contributing to encourage gratitude?  One of the factors is the ability of perspective-taking.  By taking a broader perspective on life, it is easier for us to appreciate the contributions of others in our well-being.  In fact, the practice of mindful awareness is important for us to be able to be aware of the interconnectedness in the things we have in our lives.  This helps us to perceive many elements in our lives and our lives are gifts from others and something above us.  On the contrary, sense of entitlement, preoccupation with materialistic possession, lack of self-reflection are obstacles restricting our gratitude.  For those with high level of narcissism, their believes in their entitlement to special rights and privileges and exaggeration of self-importance inhibiting their gratitude. 

In fact, there are many ways for us to express our gratitude.  For instances, we can count our blessings frequently.  We may also write gratitude letters to those who benefited us.  Furthermore, we can practice being thankful for difficulties and challenges in the past.  In the face of all the adversities in the Year of Rat, we can reflect on our prior deprivation during the difficult times.  For example, we can appreciate our reunion with our family members and friends after social distancing restriction being relaxed.  We may also be grateful about having good health after suffering from a certain kind of illnesses.  In our daily life, we may also cherish a relaxing shower after a day of tough and stressful work.  Living with an attitude of gratitude is not about how much materialistic possession we have.  It is about reflecting and contemplating on the basic elements in our simple daily lives, including sunny sky, beautiful flowers and loved ones’ smiles.  It is also about our ability to savour our positive experiences, such as a gourmet meal, a comfortable bed, and an adorable pet.  Let us farewell the Year of Rat with an attitude of gratitude despite all the difficulties and challenges we had gone through.  With a heart full of gratitude, we will cultivate our environment with altruistic and empathetic atmosphere.

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