We find ourselves in the beginning of an exciting, challenging, emotional, busy and joyful time of year – the holidays. The holidays can bring a sense of magic and wonder and more opportunities to see and connect with family and friends; but for some, it can veer into the realm of stress, overwhelm, loneliness, and it can even become a bit depressing with its expectations. How do we balance some semblance of feeling grounded at what can be a heightened emotional time for many?
Having gratitude for what we have in our own lives can bring us back to the present and bring a sense of peace and calm, especially during difficult or busy times. A simple gratitude practice can provide us with a completely different perspective on our current situation. It can be a game changer. What if you were to believe that conscious, simple gratitude practices could shift your life? Could actually alter your energy and impact how you are feeling? Would you focus on being more grateful and expand the abundance in your life?
My favorite (and also one of the easiest) ways to practice gratitude is a gratitude journal. The act of writing “I am grateful for…..” thoughts and statements makes it easier for me to see concretely that I have so very much to be thankful for. I often catch myself smiling when writing in my gratitude journal. For those who like to write, this can be quite easily incorporated into your day. Keep it simple. Write 3 things daily that you feel thankful for. Focus on those people, events, experiences, learnings, or qualities about yourself that you find meaningful. And when it is one of those days where you find it most challenging to find a diamond in the rough, recall simple things that you found to be enjoyable, peaceful, and fun in your day. Maybe it was that you had a smooth commute into work. That you saw something in nature that caused you to momentarily stop in awe. Maybe you had a satisfying conversation with a friend. Simple, everyday occurrences can easily be overlooked, but also be a true source of joy. By putting an emphasis on gratitude, we can train ourselves to stop in the moment to appreciate things, instead of just reflecting on them in the evening.
This is not always an easy practice, especially when we are in a difficult time in life. All the more reason to find the lightness in the dark. I call this “flipping the switch” and challenging ourselves to see a different perspective.
Give it a try: Bring to mind a current challenge, notice the frustration, sadness, lack, fear, jealousy, or any other of these energy-draining emotions that surface. Acknowledge that you are feeling this way and that that is normal. Then, acknowledge you have the ability to feel differently.
Flip the switch
- A person you are deeply grateful for: Call to mind someone who is currently in your life who you are grateful for. What is it about this person that benefits your life? What do they bring to you? How do they make you feel?
- A quality in yourself that you are grateful for: Call to mind an aspect of yourself that you value. We each have unique gifts we bring to the world and being conscious of what those are is the first step in sharing them with others. Be reminded of the qualities that help you be successful in your professional life, and the characteristics that loved ones appreciate and value about you. What strengths and unique talents make you the amazing being you are?
- A recent experience or event that you are grateful for: This could be as simple as a long soulful conversation with an old friend. Or an unexpected, serendipitous opportunity that came your way at the right moment – a new client contract, or a workshop or class that supports your growth.
For each of these gifts of gratitude, visualize and paint a picture of that person, event, or quality that brings you gratitude. Energetically send them your thanks. Consciously thank yourself. When we include self-compassion and self-love in our lives we are ultimately being grateful for being here on this earth, at this time,for a reason and purpose. Recognize who you are and honor yourself. Give thanks for your body that carries you through your day, allowing you to move and do the activities that you enjoy. Give thanks for your own individual qualities and personal traits that make you one of a kind in this world. There is only one you and ever will be. That indeed is a gift to be grateful for. Think positively, allow the negative energy to flow away, and enjoy letting gratitude guide your day.
These practices of reflection can help you take note of gratitude as it happens, allowing us to be more present within each moment. Practice them to help you stay mindful, especially in times, like the holidays, where stress or busyness can detract from or negatively affect your experience.
Share your Gratitude practice with the community here or what steps you will take today to bring more of the power of thanksgiving into your life.
Rebekah Kane, Founder of Tell a New Story Coaching, coaches and empowers people through job, career and life transitions with less stress, more balance, ease and joy. www.tellanewstorycoaching.com