If you practice changing your attitude to one of gratitude, you will find that your approach to life will become more positive in general. Below are some ideas for you, practices that I do myself each and every day.
Three years ago during a nursery school parent class, we had to choose just one characteristic, from a humongous list, that we thought was most important for our child to develop. I remember the other parents choosing “independent”, “motivated”, and “organized”. We all agreed that these were wonderful characteristics to develop, would lead to successful lives for our children, and a child with these skills would certainly be easier to parent.
I was last and declared that “grateful” was by far my first choice. The others didn’t nod as agreeably and looked a bit puzzled about how gratitude would get my son far. I explained that someone who is truly grateful appreciates all that has happened in their lives, values their relationships, and they have an internal motivation to pay it forward with kindness. It is the shift in thinking that someone needs to really enjoy life. I said a lot more that seemed profound at the time, perhaps only to myself, but that was okay! I was grateful for the exercise, for helping to clarify what I felt was most important to model for my son.
I know, sometimes it’s hard to feel grateful. When we experience sorrow or see others suffering, we tend to focus on what we feel is wrong with the world.
Feeling grateful does not mean than we endure injustice. But we can be grateful for even the most unpleasant circumstances if they urge us to make meaningful changes in our lives and the lives of others. Sometimes it’s political unrest that motivates you to become more involved in your local government. Maybe it’s a decline in your health that prompts you to make changes in your lifestyle. Perhaps the loss of a loved one makes you realize that life is short, that we should spend time with and appreciate our loved ones more, and to live our life to the fullest. We can be grateful for all these experiences.
You may wonder why you should take my advice on this. I am certainly not all-knowing. But as a yoga teacher, I feel it’s my duty to offer this advice. The entire training in yoga is about remaining open in the body, heart, and mind, regardless of circumstances. We develop this training for the rest of our lives.
Our work is to live fully in the present moment, even the most dreadful, boring, and seemingly meaningless moments. To do this, we’re required to make peace with the past and to admit that whatever happened in the past is what has led to this moment, right here, right now. We can remain hopeful and positive about the future knowing that everything that is about to happen will have a purpose.
In Yoga, we respect our lineage of teachers who have passed on this wisdom and most of us express our gratitude for them and the practice itself whenever we come to the mat.
~ After getting out of bed each morning, touch the floor or even bow down on the ground and give thanks for the new day that was given to us. ~
~ Say grace, sing a song, or simply take a moment of silence before eating a meal. Bring to mind the animals, plants, farmers, and workers who provided the food. Thank the cook, even if it’s yourself. And when preparing a meal, think about the people you are cooking for, how you feel grateful that they are in your life and feel pleased that this is one way you can express your gratitude and nurture them. ~
~ Pause before exercising or whenever you’re especially mindful of your body. Appreciate it’s strength and endurance, even if it is not what it once was. ~
~ Stop complaining. ~
~ Try to hang out with people who inspire you to keep your heart open. ~
~ Generosity and gratitude go hand in hand. When you give someone your time, effort, or even money, you are valuing their services and expressing your gratitude. Think about this when you’re donating, volunteering, or do any kind of shopping. ~
If you have anything to add to the suggestions above, I’d love to see it in the comments below.
I value all of you and am so delighted to have you in my life. Happy Thanksgiving every day!