With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, the idea of developing a gratitude practice is worth considering. The concept is to keep a log of 5 or so moments of gratitude from your day. This focus on the positive and affirming the good can help to rewire our brains to look for the joy in our lives and to expand it.
The first time I tried a gratitude practice, I failed gloriously. I told my coach, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Every night I write down that I appreciate my kids, my husband, my job, our home. I just don’t get it. It’s not working for me.”
My coach replied, “First of all, I call bullshit that those are the things you really were grateful for today. What if you were actually grateful when the door shut and you had a moment’s solitude? Would you put that down if it were true?”
We need to be honest about our gratitude. What really did give us joy that day, without shame or doubt about it.
Gratitude also works best when they are very small grained. When we can pull our senses into the practice. The foam on our cup of cappuccino. The warmth of an embrace. The glorious red and yellow of the leaves of the trees. The warmth in our heart when a stranger said thank you.
You know you’ve hit the gratitude jackpot when your list still has resonance as you write them down the second time. You can feel the sip of coffee, feel the emotion in your body from the thank you. It’s like getting a second emotional hit of joy and appreciation from those moments all over again. And then those feelings can expand and grow as you practice noticing them.
That’s the joy of gratitude. Mindful appreciation of the abundance of life.
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