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Posted by Danielle Winston

Thank You Each Day - The Art of Gratitude

"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." -Oprah Winfrey

 

Everyone is talking about gratitude. Beyond buzzy, it might even be more popular than Jennifer Garner’s collagen smoothie recipe. These days, just saying the word “grateful” seems to produce a snowball effect, spiraling over to all things healthy and blissful. Why? What does it truly mean? Somewhere along the self-awareness path the word “grateful” has gotten lost in translation… And how it’s defined can be a mixed goodie bag. While it’s usually associated with light and positive energy, depending on its interpretation, grateful, can also be triggering. Think of a grumpy old woman, waving a scolding finger, as she shouts, “Count your blessings. You ought to be grateful... Things could’ve been much worse!” 

So what’s so important about feeling grateful? Rooted in appreciation, there’s also a lovely two-sidedness about it. Something as simple as realizing you’ve been given another day to live, when that’s not the case for everyone, can be revelatory… When you view life with an eye toward shining a light on the good, while simultaneously realizing that things may have gone another way, it offers the chance to see both POVs: your own abundance. Also the other road… the unfortunate one that for whatever reason, didn’t occur. And this creates an awareness of your own luck = grateful.

 

There’s a beauty in acknowledging the dark side. By pondering what could’ve been, you learn not to take precious gifts for granted. With deeper awareness, you can feel satisfied about what you’ve achieved through your skills and resourcefulness. At the same time, you can also realize good fortune is not a given. Instead of feeling superior to others, envisioning alternative paths, helps illustrate the frailty of life.

Complaining and Gratitude 

Does being thankful mean you can’t be unhappy and voice discomfort? True appreciation is meaningful because it comes from a genuine place. Suppressing negative feelings won’t serve you; however, shining a light on them will help you learn more about yourself… Gratitude is like a two-sided coin. Both aspects exist. Depending on how you flip, you might view one half and not the other. And yet... by calling attention to the positive, very often it causes the negative to fade. Allow yourself to feel dissatisfied about something… but also be willing to look at it clearly, viewing the positive charge along with the negative one.

Deprivation Verses Gratitude  

When you think you are missing out, it creates a desperate feeling that can manifest as a needy “there’s never enough” attitude. This emptiness mindset does not invite abundance or attract positive energy. As psychiatrist Carl Young, famously once said, “what you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”

A new view can be enlightening. When you see the bounty of your gifts, your brain makes further associations in this direction, reconfirming your thoughts and causing new ones to grow… And this sense of appreciation ripples over to all aspects of life. It could be said that the seeds of abundance bloom from gratitude.   

Happy & Grateful 

Turning your gaze to gratitude lifts the fog of negative energy. Not in a superficial, slap-a-smile-on-it way, but by choosing an alternative path. Giving thanks is about searching for the good. Surprisingly, even aspects of life which may have seemed clouded with despair may appear very different when you view them through the lens of gratitude. 

Like Yin and Yang, positive and negative forces coexist side by side. Harkening back to that old cliche, depending on how you view life, a glass may seem half empty or half full. Even at difficult times, when things appear most challenging, searching for hints of light amidst the darkness can illuminate your path. 

Gratitude Meditation

When you say the words “thank you” to another person, it’s often followed by a “your welcome.” Think of how it feels when you don’t give thanks, and just walk off after a kindness; or else, when you do a kindness for another person but it goes unnoticed. On a subtle level, something as simple as this give and take of appreciation can impact your mood.

For a daily gratitude reminder, try the following thankfulness meditation…

Sit in a comfortable position, in nonrestrictive clothing. Close your eyes. Envision a clear thread naturally aligning your spine and neck towards the sky. Give a gentle massage to your facial muscles, allowing them to relax. When you’re done, place your hands palms-up, on your knees. Take a deep breath through your nose into your abdomen... Very slowly exhale. Continue breathing this way. Repeat the words, “thank you,” as a mantra, 6 times to yourself. As you say the words, make them progressively quieter, until just a faint whisper. Then allow your mind to ponder all you feel thankful for… images, words, thoughts. Rest in this awareness for 5-10 minutes. 

Each year, our culture reminds on Thanksgiving it’s time to give thanks. Other holidays also encourage reflection, such as your birthday, friends birthdays, and New Year’s Eve… The trouble is, isolated moments of awareness are not enough. So why not incorporate gratitude into your daily practice? Each day upon waking, allow yourself to be thankful for the new morning and the many surprises yet to be revealed. And each night before bed, appreciate the day that came before. Additionally, throughout the day, ask yourself: what do I feel lucky for today? Grab the first answer that pops into your mind. Focus on it, and allow yourself to appreciate…

 

 

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