Increase a sense of appreciation when having the opportunity to participate in hobby, whether it is boating and feeling the water’s mist or biking and feeling the exhilaration of cruising downhill. So many of life’s simple moments deserve a moment of appreciation. The key is to be aware of the small joys and being grateful.
As we all know, times are tough right now. In addition to the acute medical crisis caused by the Pandemic, in our post COVID world, we are also experiencing what some have called a “mental health pandemic”.
What can each of us do to get out of this “Pandemic Induced Mental and Emotional Funk”?
One tool that each of us has access to is the simple power of daily gratitude. As a part of our series about the “How Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Riya Aarini.
Riya Aarini is a writer of children’s fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. Learn more about her written work on her website www.riyapresents.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about you and about what brought you to your specific career path?
As a lifelong writer, the endless interplay between words and the ideas they express has always captivated me. Naturally, I studied English Literature at university. I wrote my first children’s story, which was published by a well-known children’s magazine. Hundreds of thousands of words later, I grew into an adept writer.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The winding detour! Early on, I mistakenly assumed writing stories would instantly lead to a successful career as a writer. The reality, however, is that it was hardly an easy path. After my first story was published, I continued to submit my work but was met with constant rejection. So, I swerved from my writing focus for several years and took odd jobs. My road eventually returned to a writing career. That detour was far from expected — but interesting in that it gave me life experiences from which I could draw inspiration to write.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why do you think that resonates with you? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Life is a journey, not a destination,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The journey is all there is; there is no destination. This quote rings true for me. All of us are in the same boat — no one knows exactly where his or her life path will lead, what hurdles must be circumvented along the way or how easy or difficult it will be to navigate. It is important to find satisfaction in the moment we are given.
Giving my best effort to my creative work offers me a sense of fulfillment. As with any artistic endeavor, no one knows beforehand how well it will be received — otherwise known as the destination. But the journey itself of producing creative bodies of work, for me, is incredibly satisfying.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story about why that resonated with you?
I have to give immense credit to Shel Silverstein, author of Where the Sidewalk Ends and Light in the Attic, books I read as a child. Shel Silverstein freely expressed his creativity in his brilliant verse. I feel inspired by this ingenious children’s poet, as he saw everyday things in uncommon ways.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am so excited to be working on releasing my children’s book of light verse, called Collector of Things & Other Poems. I have high hopes that young audiences will wholeheartedly welcome this collection of humorous poems. A bit of humor in daily life is the medicine for many ailments!
I am also working on a holiday story called Cole and the Giant Gingerbread House. I address homelessness and poverty in this children’s picture book, and I hope readers young and old will appreciate the story’s message of gratitude.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am grateful to my seventh-grade Literature teacher. He was the first to remark on the originality of my writing, which further boosted my confidence in my work.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now that we are on the topic of gratitude, let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. We would like to explore together how every one of us can use gratitude to improve our mental wellness. Let’s start with a basic definition of terms. How do you define the concept of Gratitude? Can you explain what you mean?
Gratitude is an emotional response defined by a feeling of thanks for an experience, person, place or object. One who is grateful is wholly satisfied and has no need to seek more. Being genuinely thankful inspires a deep well of contentment in the one who experiences it.
Why do you think so many people do not feel gratitude? How would you articulate why a simple emotion can be so elusive?
The practice of gratitude is literally a practice. As with developing any skill, from hockey to playing the flute, practice or repetition, is a key component. Gratitude is no different. Gratitude must be cultivated in order to produce benefits.
Developing gratitude may be likened to growing a plant. Digging a hole, planting a seed and giving the plant an opportunity to thrive requires daily watering, regular sunlight and careful weeding. No seed will flourish into a full-grown plant overnight. Similarly, growing gratitude is accomplished over a period of time.
Someone intent on benefiting from a practice of gratitude must plant the seed of gratitude and nurture it. Only after regular care and attention will the practice of gratitude bloom and reward the practitioner.
Perhaps the work required in developing gratitude is what makes it elusive. Some people simply are unaware that gratitude must be practiced regularly in order to be transformative.
This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be constructive to help spell it out. Can you share with us a few ways that increased gratitude can benefit and enhance our life?
Positivity is productive; negativity is destructive. Gratitude allows the practitioner to recognize the truly positive aspects of everyday life. Remember that gratitude is not reserved solely for the huge rewards of life.
A skillful approach to a gratitude habit is to be grateful for even the smallest lessons or joys of daily life. In doing so, the practitioner is able to encourage moments of gratitude throughout the day — this continual flow of positivity can be an enriching experience.
Let’s talk about mental wellness in particular. Can you share with us a few examples of how gratitude can help improve mental wellness?
A gratitude practice can enhance one’s overall wellbeing by virtue of focusing on what fills one’s cup rather than what empties it. Gratitude is a perspective of abundance. A person who seemingly has nothing can, through a practice of gratitude, see that he or she has everything. Immeasurable contentment is the outcome of gratitude.
The best part of gratitude is that it is accessible to anyone at any time. The human brain is a complex system, and minds can change as suddenly as the direction of the wind. A lifetime grump can transform into a cheery ray of sunshine with a dedicated habit of gratitude. Someone down in the dumps who appreciates what is good in the world will alleviate personal suffering. Of course, this is easier said than done but is a skill well worth acquiring.
Ok wonderful. Now here is the main question of our discussion. From your experience or research, what are “Five Ways That Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness”. Can you please share a story or example for each?
A grateful person knows how to harness the power of gratitude. From sunup until sundown, gratitude may be practiced to improve overall mental wellness. A practice of gratitude is relatively simple. Here’s some examples:
- Upon waking up, be grateful for the morning cup of coffee. Think of the farmers across the world who have harvested the coffee beans, the trucks that delivered the coffee beans to the store and the opportunity to sip the hot beverage first thing in the morning.
- Gaze at the stars shining in the night sky. Realize you are an integral part of mankind’s continually unfolding story. Be grateful to be a living part of the universe.
- Increase a sense of appreciation when having the opportunity to participate in hobby, whether it is boating and feeling the water’s mist or biking and feeling the exhilaration of cruising downhill. So many of life’s simple moments deserve a moment of appreciation. The key is to be aware of the small joys and being grateful.
- Relationships, whether with loved ones, friends or pets, are integral to a fulfilling human experience. Take the time to recognize the importance of those in your life and be grateful for these relationships.
- Whether you fail or succeed, be grateful for the opportunity to do your best. Failure can be instructive, and success tops the cake. Either, in its own way, calls for giving thanks.
Is there a particular practice that can be used during a time when one is feeling really down, really vulnerable, or really sensitive?
I’d suggest seeking out humor. Watch a favorite sitcom. Call a funny friend. Read hilarious books or blogs.
Humor has the ability to shift perspective. A change in perspective is what is needed most during moments of vulnerability.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that you would recommend to our readers to help them to live with gratitude?
Anything that awakens your humanity is something to be grateful for. In our world, an infinite number of things, people and places can inspire gratitude.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Be grateful to just be a human. In French, the word “etre” literally means “to be.” I’d say just be grateful to be the best version of you. The world is a big place that fully embraces the wonderful diversity of its people.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
Visit my author website: www.riyapresents.com
Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!