As the rush of the holidays loom near an alternative feeling has settled over nature and over me. A quieting, a hush over the landscape. As the winds have blown most of the leaves off the trees, the rustling subsides and a hollow chill blows us back inside. Retreating. Back to our own inner landscape. A time for reflection, intuition and inward exploration. The long dark nights of the impending Winter provide us with a sacred opportunity to turn our gaze inward and take stock of our innermost wishes and check out our own inner alchemy.
When I linger over these thoughts of shifting seasons and self-examination, gratitude comes to mind. Gratitude isn’t difficult to find this week. It’s everywhere. People talking about it and embracing their thankfulness at family gatherings over turkey (or tofurkey) and sweet potato casserole.
What about the rest of the year?
We certainly, feel grateful when things are just as we wish. When we’re feasting on delicious food made by the loving hands of our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and surrounded by our tribe. But gratitude can recede just as quickly as it comes; the present moment collects dust, friends disappoint, traffic lights turn red and the sun goes behind a cloud. Then, we crave, await, or create the next reason to feel good, and therefore grateful. In this sense, our lives become an incessant quest, commonly known as “the pursuit of happiness.”
What if this Winter, you turn inward as the season invites you to do so and find gratitude in the sweet simplicity of everyday life.
Carry on this abundance of gratitude we celebrate every November, throughout the entire year. Create a foundation of thankfulness.
Become obsessively grateful.
So do it. Sit down with pen and paper or at your computer and start, “I am grateful for …” Maybe you will have to stop there for a minute and wait because you just can't think of anything. Surrender to the moment. Something inside you will shift. The words will come. This force that you are tapping into is bigger than you. That fear or anxiety that is causing you to hesitate is not all there is. Your gratitude is a bridge across those troubled waters to a cozy resting place on the other side.
2. Feel it
Some days you will write without feeling a shred of gratitude. That's ok. Just do it anyway. And when you can summon up the feeling of gratitude in your heart, let it percolate through every cell in your body. Embody it. Place your hands on your heart, raise your head, lift your body up, throw your arms up and shake it like a salt shaker. Move into the feeling. Dance it. Sing it. Fill your heart with it.
3. Practice presence
As you move through your day, pause now and then, and think “I am grateful.”
It’s easiest for me to do this over my morning cup of coffee – I’m a morning person. Or walking my dog on the beach – because duh it’s the beach. Moving through your day with mindfulness in this way will mean that when you do sit down to write your gratitude list those things will come to mind.
4. Don’t overdose on gratitude exercises
Quality over quantity. At the end of the day it may be more helpful to write thoughtfully in a gratitude journal a few times a week rather than crank out a daily list, when it can start to feel like a chore. Focus on quality and on finding your authentic expression - something that leaves YOU feeling good.
Releasing your old thought patterns and welcoming in new ones takes practice. (Anything amazing, life changing or magical does) There will be resistance, it’s natural. This practice is about surrendering to gratitude and ultimately to love. That’s the goal. So, keep it simple and just know that the more you put in, the more you let in, the more you’ll get back.
Gratitude is restorative.
We are obsessively grateful for YOU.