For Canadians, Thanksgiving weekend often means time spent with family, crisp fall weather, and of course celebratory feasts. This particular weekend can also serve as a reminder to reflect and give thanks for everything that we have, in short, to practice Gratitude.
The practice of gratitude is not something that we need only reserve for holiday celebrations however, in fact taking a little time daily to acknowledge our blessings can be of great benefit.
So if ruminating on our blessings is that good for us, then why isn’t it something we all make time for on a regular basis? Often things of a more spiritual nature can seem like a less worthy use of our time. We’re generally good at scheduling in our weekly spin class, or morning run, but sitting and doing nothing but thinking of things we’re grateful for; who has time for that?!
The truth is we all do; practicing gratitude can be a simple 60 seconds of silent thank you’s as we wake up in the morning, it can be “counting our blessings” as we fall asleep. Practicing gratitude conditions us to see the good over the bad, to find the love and humanity despite the obstacles and the hardships.
Practicing gratitude can take the form of a meditation where we sit or lie down, and bring our attention wholly to the things in our lives that make us feel grateful; everything else drifts out of focus. Centring our attention around the positive has a domino effect; we inspire those around us to also react more positively, and ultimately that same positive energy is directed back towards us.
Take for example this familiar situation; a co-worker is complaining about your boss. The two of you commiserate over drinks about how horrible Ms.X is, and at the end of the conversation you’re feeling even more incensed/taken for granted/dissatisfied with your job. Now imagine this scenario with a sprinkle of gratitude instead. Co-worker Y begins to complain about your boss. You empathize but instead of fuelling the fire, you re-direct the conversation to highlight the benefits of working for the company, the opportunity to move up, the complimentary salad bar, or if her experience truly has no upside, perhaps you offer a plan of positive action. Maybe here the gratitude in the situation is that the workplace has brought the two of you into the same circle, and together you’re going to create and put into action the best career plan possible.
Like any activity we take on, the more we practice, the more proficient we become. Giving ourselves simple ways to practice gratitude can help facilitate the shift towards that particular mindset becoming force of habit. Keep a gratitude journal by your bedside and jot down a handful of things to be thankful for as you wake; read over the list before you settle in to sleep for the night.
Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual, and sit in stillness before the busy-ness begins, silently going over your blessings in preparation for a positively powered day. Kids can get in on the practice here too. Invite them to sit cross legged facing you in your bed. Have some sparkly crystals on hand to entice them to join in the fun. Let them choose the crystals they’d like to meditate with that morning, and invite everyone to close their eyes. Take 5 deep breaths, softly open your eyes, and take turns announcing what it is you’re thankful for. In a world driven by consumer wants and needs, it’s healthy to instil this thankfulness for what we already have, whether it’s the coziness of our beds, the roof over our heads or a new toy. Instead of waking up, scrolling, and making mental lists of what we need to own, take that time instead to be grateful and content in the moment. Let gratitude guide you through your day, and notice a powerfully positive shift in your own energy and wellbeing.
xoxo Stray & Wander Team