Nov 232012

Thanksgiving is  a wonderful time to practice gratitude. Most of us have the day off of work and we’re surrounded by family, good food, and festive activities. Holiday stresses aside, it’s typically a happy time of the year. There’s not only an underlying expectation to “give thanks” to others but I think most of us actually have  a desire to do so. It’s hard not to see the immediate benefits from feeling grateful and of course from giving thanks to others. In the moments that I feel grateful I have a sense of lightness and overall happy and secure feelings follow. In fact, I’d argue that it’s nearly impossible to feel upset at the same time you feel grateful. Gratitude brings out our inherent qualities and joyous and safe feelings follow almost every time. The same also holds true when we give thanks to others. We immediately see a twinkle in their eye and a smile almost always follows. Expressing gratitude towards others validates and appreciates them at their core. It’s an immediate way to really connect with another’s soul.

So what happens after Turkey Day?

It seems for many of us, myself included most of my life, we go back to business as usual. While many of us can agree with my comments in the first paragraph it’s like anything else in life. If it’s not actually part of our life or we don’t have that “Thanksgiving” reminder it’s not on top of our list. While I do believe that gratitude is a natural act/expression I also believe that it’s something you need to be intentional about. I also believe it’s something that needs to start with us and for us. What I mean is that it’s something that can’t be done solely by living on reminders like the Thanksgiving holiday. It needs to be something we intentionally make part of our daily life. I also believe that as important as it is to show thanks (gratitude) to others I believe we should be aware of the gratitude we have for our own inherent qualities (health, life, love).

We can take 3 quick steps every day to ensure we remain in alignment with our Authentic Self and have that Attitude of Gratitude.

1. Waking up first in the morning is the best time to ignite that engine of gratitude. Before you even open your eyes think of 3 things you’re grateful for in the day before you. It’s okay to be grateful for that job you don’t like, to be grateful to be able to take your kids to school or even just a sunny day.

Why should I do this?

We already know that you can’t practice gratitude without feeling joyous and peaceful. Who wouldn’t want to start their day feeling joy and peace? The other thing is that it shifts your mentality from “I have to do…” to “I get to do…”. This is an important distinction because when we have to do things we typically aren’t fully vested in doing them and often times we’re checked out multi-tasking and/or thinking about other things. Getting to do things keeps us in the present moment and brings along joy and peace. So ask yourself when you wake up? Do you want to start your day feeling joy, peace, and living in the present moment? If so, take the 2 minutes first thing in the morning to practice gratitude.

2. Anytime during the day you’re feeling anxious, upset, or just in a funk give someone a call and let them know how much they mean to you. This may sound difficult to do but there’s a lot of value in appreciating and showing gratitude towards others. Often times, what we need most in those troubling moments is a connection with someone else and to remind ourselves that we are important and we do matter.

Why should I do this?

Only someone who matters and is important can give someone else an appreciation or showing of gratitude. Often times those feelings of anxiety, sadness, and frustration are caused by a deeper feeling of unimportance and a false belief of not mattering. Counter those feelings by reaching out to others and expressing your gratitude. You might be surprised how quickly this can reframe things for you.

3. Finally, just before you doze off to sleep is another wonderful time to practice gratitude. Think about the day before you. Don’t focus on any of the negatives. Instead think about all the things you “got” to do. Finally, feel grateful for the “I Am” qualities that you are. With a grateful heart affirm your inherent qualities, “I am healthy”, “I am valuable”, “I am enough”, “I am intelligent”, “I am beautiful/handsome” and so on.

Why should I do this?

Some will argue that the last few minutes right before you doze off are the times you’re closest in alignment to your “Higher Self”. There’s typically less distraction, there’s a calm and peace over you and your mind is ripe to feed on the last thoughts of the evening. Plant these grateful, affirming, and positive thoughts in your mind right before you go into dreamland. Your mind won’t have anything else to bake on for those 6 to 8 hours than those soulful and loving thoughts.

3 Quick (and not always easy) steps you can practice every day. We know what life is like placing our attention on the things we don’t have, the things we don’t like, and the things we have to do. I would invite you to try something different. Implement these 3-steps for just one week and see what a difference gratitude can make in your life!

As always please leave your thoughts and comments below. I value your comments as I have much to learn from all of you!

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