The Practice of GratitudeNov 21, 2016
One of my favorite things about teaching Mysore is how it makes me feel appreciated. I have a great group of students, and rarely does one leave the room in the morning without thanking me. And one of the things that I love most about practicing is how grateful it makes me feel to my own teacher, the lineage, and my ability to do what I love.
As we enter the holiday season, it seems like an appropriate time to address gratitude. Gratitude is an affirmation of the gifts and goodness we have received. And sometimes, gratitude is difficult because life is difficult. Navigating the holidays on top of all of the other daily responsibilities can be a bit overwhelming and leave us feeling worn down and anxious for the hoopla to be over.
Gratitude is a practice, and just like everything else, it gets easier the more you exercise it. The more effort you put into feeling gratitude, the more effortless the feeling will become in the future. The mind works – whatever you put into it will create the chemistry.
These positive vibrations can spiral. The more we act grateful toward others, the more likely we are to make other people feel grateful and pay it forward, which sets off a cascade of gratitude. So choose to practice gratitude, and let it raise your happiness.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate gratitude into your everyday life:
- Say “thank you.” Express gratitude everyday. A warm thank you can go a long way – watch how these simple words can change the attitude of people around you.
- Count your blessings. Keep a gratitude journal, write down things that you are grateful for and be real specific. Be grateful for all the things – not just the big ones. Frequently we focus on the obvious things to be thankful for – our health, families, jobs. Give thanks for the little things too: hot coffee, crisp air, seat heaters in your car.
- Write a thank-you note (and I don’t just mean for your holiday gifts!). This is a great opportunity to nurture relationships and express your appreciation for a person’s role in your life. What the heck – write one to yourself while you’re at it.
- Meditate. When we meditate we are focusing on the present moment. We avoid both thoughts of the past and worry about the future. It’s easy to be grateful when we are focused on the present moment.
- Receive. One way that we grow is by incorporating different parts of other people into ourselves. If we can cultivate and develop a sense of gratitude, we can begin to rewire that back into our own lives and personalities.
Make gratitude a part of your life year-round, not just in November. Of course, express gratitude when you feel it. But challenge yourself to express gratitude even when you don’t.
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