This notion of gratitude has its hooks (kindly) in me. I'm still riffing on the thankfulness theme I wrote about in my last post.
When I look up "grateful" in the dictionary, the definition reminds me how gratitude moves the positive energy both in and out. Creating a swirl of a good vibe :).
'Cuz when you're grateful, you appreciate. So you look outward and prize something's value. Shazaam. Then you're pleased or thankful, inwardly. Shazaam x 2!
Bottom line? When you're grateful, you feel good, lucky. Blessed. That's enchanting.
1) Helpful reminder: "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough." –Meister Eckhart
2) Do something for someone else: A/k/a, "Get over yusself!" as a good friend used to urge.
I feel grateful a lot. But let me tell you, teaching so many hardworking, inquisitive immigrants in this ESOL program I volunteer with has heightened my awareness of how much I have to be thankful for. As well as how much I take for granted.
The daunting challenges confronting these folks, e.g., learning a difficult new language, navigating a new culture (and tough job market), obtaining medical care for gravely ill family members when there's no health insurance, pale in comparison to what people have endured under repressive regimes and in poorer countries.
The bracing effect of this pail of ice water thrown on me has both refreshed my perspective about my blessings and inspired me to contribute more. As Bob Marley lamented, "So much trouble in the world ...," but at least I'm doing something. And, as the Pointer Sisters trumpeted, "I've got a new attitude!"
3) Daily Thanksgiving: Maybe you already keep a gratitude journal, recording daily the things you're grateful for. This is a cool practice that helps you develop a sense of gratitude, an element that social scientists have identified as key to happiness.
The practice has morphed for me into a mental list I make when I'm drifting off to sleep. Or right as I'm waking up.
But my old favorite that I am reinstating is the ritual of going around the dinner table and asking family members what they're grateful for. It really does make us stop and cultivate an appreciation of what gives life meaning. Added bonus: you learn more about what's important to loved ones.
4) "You touch it" game: My new fave creation is to focus periodically on things I'm experiencing through my senses. Then I pause and think what life would be like without it.
Would I miss it/him/her? Do I appreciate this? This computer? This sweater that keeps me warm? The scent of the soothing candle? The sound of the rockin' music? The hand soap? The sound of the key in the door as my husband comes home?
Those are the softballs.
But if you're looking through this rosier lens, even the bottomless laundry pile and endlessly filled wastebaskets and aching muscles lend themselves to gratitude. I'm no saint, but I do appreciate that if the laundry pile and the trash and the sore muscles weren't there, neither would be the lovely family and the cherished dancing. I'm so grateful....
5) Good food: And I'm totally grateful for that. Yeah, baby. New recipe we're trying – the Farfalle and Vegetables in Lemon Cream Sauce, The Hartford Courant, March 29, 2012, p. B4-5. I admit it: I'm usually a little fat-phobic (a stick of butter and 2 cups of cream :)). But, hey. It's spring!