Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

A MINDFUL THANKSGIVING

Does your traditional Thanksgiving consist of cleaning, cooking and overeating followed by exhaustion?  If so, why not try a mindful Thanksgiving this year?

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to slow down, to be grateful for what we have and to really see what is important in our lives.

For example, as you are slicing and chopping vegetables for the meal, become aware that they were warmed by the sunshine, were watered by the rain and had moonlight shining down on them at night.  You might reflect on the fact that you are preparing food that will nourish the bodies of those you love so that this becomes an act of caring rather than a boring chore.

If you notice yourself caught up in worries about whether the house looks perfect or fearful that you will overeat, try to remember that all of that is beside the point.  The point is to savor the experience of togetherness and gratitude for all that you have.  You might see that slowing down with this awareness of abundance and gratitude will fill you emotionally so that you will be less likely to burden yourself with excess food.  Perhaps you will also see that what you are truly hungering for are these nourishing feelings.

Put aside your worries and fears to look into the eyes of those with whom you are sharing this day.  Drink in the delight of any children who might be present.  Notice what is right and let the rest go.

A warm, mindful connection with others provides a positive internal experience.  We miss this experience if we are busy worrying and/or judging ourselves and others.

Creating this kind of rich, meaningful experience can provide a wonderful balance for any personal life hardships, upsetting world events and uncertainties.

Perhaps you will see any opportunity to reach out in some way to some one who is less fortunate, being grateful for the opportunity to do so.  This kind of behavior not only feels good to us, but it also is modeling behavior that your children are likely to integrate into their lives in a positive way.

You might be amazed at how much abundance you have when you actually slow down and just notice.

Gratitude Makes a Difference

I have decided to put this blog post under all  of my sections because I believe that gratitude will improve the quality of our lives in so many ways.

It is amazingly easy to notice and then fixate on all the things that are not going the way we think they are supposed to go in our lives.  I can start my day off on a bad note if I don’t approve of the weather that is happening, or if my hair has a different idea than I do about how it should look that day, or if I have run out of my favorite type of cereal.  As you can see, almost anything has the potential to throw my day off.  My mind has a definite opinion of what should happen in order for me to be happy.

What I have come to see is that, amazingly, I’m not in charge of life.  Chances are, you aren’t either.  Oh, sure, there are some things we can control such as our behavioral choices, but most of life is out of our control.  That can be very disconcerting to realize.  However, we can choose how we look at our life.  We say that some people see a cup as 1/2 full & others see it as 1/2 empty.  It seems to me that, at any given time, there is an equal amount of positive stuff happening  and negative stuff happening.  We now understand that the brain has an innate tendency to have a bias to focus on the negative things as a survival mechanism.

I believe that we need to consciously offset that bias toward negativity by going out of our way to notice what we are grateful for.  Something as simple as stopping to really notice, for example, the big, beautiful tree that graces our home with shade in the summer.  Instead of walking right by it with our mind full of thoughts about what we have to do in the future, to stop & look up into those branches that are covered with leaves or needles and feel gratitude right there in that moment.  Does it really change anything?  For me, it does.  It stimulates a nice, warm feeling inside me.  I might follow that up by noticing the beautiful red flowers that are blooming next to my front door and then feel gratitude for them.

What if you were grateful for your lunch and your children and your partner and your vehicle and your ability to read this article and your favorite chair and your source of income and your legs that carry you around?  That might be a good start to adding some pleasant feelings to your day without having to go out to buy anything.

As a matter of fact, I recommend starting a gratitude journal where, at the end of the day, you write down at least 2 new things that you noticed that day that you were grateful for.  As I wrote above, it’s the nature of the brain to notice what you don’t like.  Why not go out of your way to balance that natural tendency to feel gratitude for all the blessings that we normally take for granted.

We all can take conscious responsibility for the quality of our life by inviting gratitude in.