Fall is approaching, which means that the holidays are approaching, and I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude as Thanksgiving gets closer.
What am I grateful for?
The question brings to mind a million different things all at once.
Family…friends…love…my dogs…my work…my freedom…my home…creativity…music…a good book…chips and queso dip (I can always find gratitude for queso!), and so much more.
The list kept going and as I sat there really thinking about all I have to be grateful for, I found myself overwhelmingly grateful for gratitude itself.
Now, let me explain. It seems obvious, but there is more here than meets the eye.
Gratitude, in my life, has become one of my go-to ways of shifting my mindset when I find myself feeling out of alignment. In times of darkness or confusion, I have come to learn that I can consciously and deliberately focus on all the things I am grateful for, and something deep inside of me shifts. I can actually FEEL the change. It is powerful stuff people!
I have my go-to list of things I am grateful for that always brings me back from the edge, drowns out the drama in my mind and helps me drop my anchor and breathe.
I have also found it eye-opening to challenge myself to go beyond the list of obvious choices and dig a little deeper for reasons to be grateful. I try to challenge myself to come up with new things every day to be grateful for. It’s pretty humbling when you realize how genuinely grateful you are are so many things. Big things, little things, things we otherwise take for granted.
Running water; the convenience of the grocery store; familiar smells that make you remember good times; soft sheets; the fact that high-waist acid washed jeans are no longer considered fashionable. I could go on and on, but I believe you see where I am going with this.
So, in the spirit of the day to “give thanks,” I want to do a brief breakdown of what gratitude is and what it is not, and why I highly encourage you to implement this powerful tool into your life.
GRATITUDE IS. . .
1. AN ABUNDANCE MINDSET: Focusing on what you are grateful for forces you to open up to everything you have in your life.
Do an inventory of all of the STUFF you have. I don’t care who you are, if you have access to a computer and are able to read this, chances are you have “stuff” surrounding you. See it, and take it in. Things to be grateful for surround you. You are surrounded by abundance.
2. A GROUNDING TOOL: A way to return to center and ground yourself. In order to practice gratitude, you HAVE to shift your focus from reacting to what is going on around you to being internally centered and focused. The nature of the act itself brings you back to yourself.
3. A MINDSET SHIFT: As far as I can see, if you want to find something negative or crappy to focus on, there is plenty of it around. Go looking for it, and you will find it.
Some of you may even find yourself focusing on that stuff, as if you are stuck in it and can’t see your way out. Choosing to focus on what you are grateful for, if even for ONE minute, breaks the chain of negative thinking. It interrupts the obsessive thinking and worrying and begins to shift your focus.
4. A CHOICE: A gratitude mindset is NOT about being Pollyanna with your head stuck in the clouds somewhere. It isn’t about denial either. Bad stuff happens and it happens to all of us. But even amidst the hardships that come our way, we have the ability to choose what we give our attention. When you realize you can CHOOSE gratitude despite the storms we face, that is when we begin to realize where our power lies.
5. SIMPLE: Gratitude is a fast and effective way to FEEL GOOD.
I dare you to think about the most wonderful thing in your life, the thing you are most grateful for and NOT feel good. You won’t, because you can’t. It doesn’t work that way.
I’m not saying you will walk around in some eternal bliss after one minute of gratitude. Instead, I think of it like planting seeds. The more seeds of gratitude you plant, the more good feelings will grow. It works the same way for focusing on all the ways in which “my life sucks” (those seeds grow pretty nasty plants in case your wondering). You’re growing your feelings with the seeds of your thoughts. What type of crop do you want to harvest?
So as you enter the holiday season, I encourage you to consider choosing gratitude as a gift you give yourself. Let every day be Thanksgiving, and I can promise you that you will have a lot more to be excited about than some turkey and stuffing.