I am alive.
I am breathing.
I am HERE.
Whether or not you celebrate holidays, this time of the year tends to be a common time for people to reflect on their blessings. Even though we tend to feel more lovey dovey and sentimental during this time of the year, we can still practice the act of giving thanks any time of the year. There is something about the art of practicing gratitude. I don’t know if it has to do with the spiritual aspect of it where you feel somewhat connected to something out there that is greater than yourself or just the way gratitude tends to center and ground the mind and body and forces you to think of the here and now. Whatever your thoughts/beliefs are, there is no denying that gratitude feels like you basked in the warm sun and smiled because the warmth of the sun was very much needed to feed your soul. On that note, let’s feed our soul with gratitude and enjoy the feelings that it brings.
The great thing about practicing gratitude is it doesn’t cost a thing yet has major benefits in our lives (i.e. less anger, more appreciation, abundance mindset, better resiliency when faced with challenges, etc). In my own personal experiences of practicing mindfulness and yoga, I’ve witnessed that gratitude tends to be the overall theme of these practices. It is therapeutic and FREE.
If you feel like life has been tossing a bunch of lemons your way, make lemonade by thanking the universe for these lemons and transforming them into something sweeter. Here are a couple easy ways to hone your “gratitude” muscle (and I say “muscle” because muscles get stronger when you continue to train them… like how your mind will become stronger when you train it to actively acknowledge the little things to be thankful for):
1. Don’t forget your foundation.
We all are on a journey through life and sometimes we wonder why we are in the situations that we are. Take a look back and reflect on what has happened yesterday, last month, in the last couple months, the last year, 2 years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago. Acknowledge where you came from. Despite all the trials/errors/challenges, are you in a better place? It’s funny how humans are so quick to judge what success looks like. However, I enjoy celebrating the small successes so anything that is better than where we were before is always a celebration in my book. Take the time to appreciate your journey.
2. What are you thankful for RIGHT NOW?
Inhale, exhale… look at your current surroundings and concentrate on the current moment. If your mind wanders to what you’re planning on having for dinner or if you forgot to do something before leaving work, gently bring your mind back to the current moment. What are you thankful for RIGHT NOW? Being thankful doesn’t mean just showing appreciation for those big, life changing accomplishments. It also means showing appreciation for the littlest things around you. Find at least 3 things that you are thankful for at the moment.
3. Train yourself to make light of the situation.
Have you ever been in a situation where it was extremely difficult to find the light at the end of the tunnel? We’ve all been there and when we find ourselves struggling to make light of the situation, we tend to think of the worst case scenario and before we know it our mind is heading towards that awful downward spiral. It is HORRIBLE and sometimes when a loved one offers advice on what to do it is the last thing we want to hear. But admit it, if we spoke to ourselves and really thought about the “good” in this situation, our stress wouldn’t completely go away but it would be somewhat manageable because we were able to reassure ourselves that things are kind of okay… nerves will decrease… the heart will find some assurance… we recognize that we will be okay.
I hope that these are great starter tips on making room for more gratitude in your life. Gratitude is humbling and reminds us that there are bigger things than us that exists in the universe. I will close this article with my favorite line from the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”