What is the big deal about Gratitude anyway? It certainly is the buzzword of choice these days, and for good reason…lots of reasons. When you are in a bad mood, and even the thought of gratitude makes you feel worse, then maybe revisit it another time, but don’t rule it out.
Depending on the intensity of your mood, a little exercise in gratitude can shift your energy almost miraculously. I do know what it’s like to be emotionally processing, and/or depressed, and I’m all for honoring that valid side of us as well, as long as we are confronting our feelings, and not just wallowing in them. I’m just sayin’….
If you’d care to skip the slogging-through portion of this post o’mine, at least skip to the end and watch the TED video. I guarantee, with 99.9% assuredness, you will feel better. Uplifted, at least while you’re viewing and taking it in. Even a little time spent in Happy-Land does a body good.
Meanwhile, for those of you who bravely press on, we will take a short station break while Natasha serenades, to get us in the mood:
1.) Gratitude is fun.
Remember that ABC game you played on a road trip as a kid? We’ve all been part of the kid-club at one point or another, and depending on the era, we were all “in” on the latest game and such. Anthropologists actually study such things, and in this case, it would be called childrens’ folklore (info learned and shared among the child culture, to set them apart from adults, mostly). I decided to play the game as an adult, while traveling in my minds-eye, making a list of all that I’m grateful for. So, bear with me while I vent a few thankfullnesses:
- A is for Authenticity. Art & Artists. Assisting. Assistance. Affirmation. Astrology (of Rio Olesky). Aesthetic Ambiance. Angels. All Creatures Great & Small (the book & the reality!).
- B is for Beauty. Bounty. Bravery. Boundaries (healthy). Butterflies. Bees.
- C is for Clean Food, Air & Water. California! Cloudscapes. Cellos. Community Market (the local co-op health food store). Cooking. Chips & Comfort Food. Comfy Bed (on which to lay my head nightly). Cuddling. Creativity. Confidence. Constructive Criticism. Change. Contentment. Clients. Comedians.
- D is for Dancing. Dr. Metz. Details. Dragonflies. Doodling. Dewdrops.
- E is for Everything. Energy. Ease. Efficiency. Expansiveness. Excitement. Elegance.
- F is for Fun. Faith. Family. Friends. Forgiveness. First-Responders. Fundamental Field of Energy Medicine (saved my life). Flora & Fauna. Fog (our local natural & mysterious air-conditioning). Foreign Movies. Foodies. Facebook (for reconnecting).
- G is for Gratitude (an obvious choice) :) God. Grace. Going (with the flow). Generosity. Goofiness. Gentlemen. Garrison Keillor. Guardian Angels. Gaudi (Antoni).
- H is for Humor. Haiku. Humility. Home. Health. Healing. Hugs. Hot Showers. Hot Springs.
- I is for Intuition. India. Integrity. Integration. Intelligence. Ice Cream! iPhone.
- J is for Just Being. Jokes. Jocularity. Jesus. James Taylor. James Brown. James Herriot.
- K is for Kindness. Kissing. Kites (in the wind).
- L is for Love. Life. Laughter. Lightness (of Being). Little Effort (big payoff).
- M is for Me. Maggie! Music. Museums. Mindfulness. Muir (John), Moonlit Nits (as my mom would say).
- N is for Nature. Neo-Ludditism. Non-GMO.
- O is for Optimism. Oceans. Organic. Organization. Orderliness. Oprah-Influence.
- P is for Pizza. Potatoes! Productivity. Pampering. Photography. PBS. Puns. Positivity. Playfulness. Prayer Flags. Pope Francis.
- Q is for Quietude. Quaintness. Quartz Crystals. Quality.
- R is for a Redwoods. Rain. Rebels. Right Livelihood. Roof (over my head). Rest & Relaxation. Rambling.
- S is for Spiritual Path. Surrender. Self-Love. Self-Expression. Solitude. Solidarity. Sleep (when I can get it!). Simplicity. Stillness. Silliness. Sense(s) & Sensitivity. Spontaneity. Safety. Strength (internal & external). Santa Rosa Strength (who has kept my body strong for 9 years now!). Sonoma County. San Francisco. Steve Jobs (who made it possible for me to enter the 21st century with ease). Streams (of consciousness, too).
- T is for Transformation. Transition. Today. Tenacity. Trust. Travel. Time. Tangents. Tattoos. Teddy Bears. Teachers. TV. The Sound of Music.
- U is for Ubiquitous Uniqueness. Unlearning. Usefulness.
- V is for Vulnerability. Volvo (my 23 year companion, gone though not forgotten). Vivacity.
- W is for Working Parts. Wit. Wisdom. Wellness. Woody Allen. Wright (Frank Lloyd). Wide-Open Spaces. Wind-Chimes. Weather.
- X is for Xenophobia, Not!
- Y is for You! Yearning. Yesterday. Yellow-Mellow. Yella Habibi!
- Z is for Zest (lemon, orange, & for life).
2.) Gratitude is self-reinforcing. Try thinking, feeling, praying or meditating on gratitude, or acknowledge the power of the written word by keeping a gratitude journal. I first heard about this from Oprah although I had been keeping a journal since I was a kid. It’s what you focus on that grows. As this wonderful story illustrates:
“An old Cherokee told his grandson, ‘My son, there is a battle between to wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth. The boy thought about it and asked his grandfather, ‘Which wolf wins?’ The old Cherokee quietly replied, ‘The one you feed’.”
3.) Gratitude is comforting, and therefore, relaxing.
Counting my blessings actually helps me go to sleep at night. Luckily, I have a lot to be thankful for. Actually we all do. Think of all the things we take for granted, there are tons! Bringing these things into my current awareness, I find very relaxing and comforting. Reminding myself that even when I don’t feel taken care of, there are so many ways in which I am being supported. If you come up dry, try infusing yourself with quotes or poems by other folks, such as this, to help you get in the mood. Or turn to other inspirational books. Matthew 6: 25-34 is one of my favorite Bible passages:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a>]? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
4.) Gratitude is good for our health and it is a muscle that needs to be exercised.
5.) Gratitude brings us into the present moment.
6.) Gratitude is even better when shared.
We’ve all probably seen this video on Infectious Laughter in the Metro, but it never hurts to watch it again…
Everyone’s day is brightened when you give a compliment, a word of appreciation, a smile, a laugh, a hug, or a a sympathetic ear. Don’t ever underestimate the huge impact you can have on someone with a small thoughtfulness.
6.) Gratitude is simply, yet profoundly, inspiring.