No matter what is happening in our lives right now, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, there is always something for which we can be thankful. This is a great time of year to focus actively on the practice of gratitude.
Research has demonstrated that people who practice gratitude regularly have a host of benefits. Physical benefits include: stronger immune systems; being less bothered by aches and pains; having lower blood pressure; exercising more and taking better care of their health; sleeping longer and feeling refreshed upon waking.
Psychologically those with a “gratitude practice” (such as a gratitude journal, in which you daily write down five things for which you are grateful) demonstrate: higher levels of positive emotions; feeling more alert, alive and awake; more joy and pleasure; more optimism and happiness. Socially, they tend to be: more helpful, generous and compassionate; more forgiving; more outgoing; and to feel less lonely and isolated.
Yet in our day-to-day lives, it’s easy to get pulled at times into focusing on what we lack. Modern society is so focused on instant gratification, and on material possessions.
If we aren’t careful, we can end up focusing on and lamenting what we believe we lack, and thinking that acquiring more “things” will make us happy. Yet research clearly shows that it is relationships and experiences that bring us the most joy, not stuff.
This week I am finding happiness through focusing on the many abundant blessings in my life.
What Are You Grateful For?
Chances are that you can find many things to be grateful for in each day. Honestly, I think most of us could easily fill a journal if we were truly accounting for all the blessings in our lives.
At the baseline, we can be thankful if we have our health. Anyone healthy enough and able to read this is doing better than so many in the world who are sick or not even able to read this message.
If you have all of your limbs, and your eyesight, and your sense of hearing, you have blessings that not everyone has, but that we tend to take for granted. Just being in gratitude for a healthy body is a great start for gratitude practice.
It’s something we can be thankful for every day that we wake up to see the world again!
Give Thanks for Food and Clean Water!
Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population live on less than $2.50 a day, and more than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty – less than $1.25 a day. Can you imagine living on only $75 (or less!) a month?
Most of us who live in First World countries have First World problems. Most of us have somewhere warm to sleep at night; some food to eat each day; and clean water to drink.
It’s easy to forget sometimes that nearly 1/2 the world doesn’t necessarily even have this much!
I know I am very blessed to live in a beautiful home in a historic little walkable city. I know I am blessed to have amazing family and friends.
I know that I am blessed to eat healthy food every day, and to be able to drink clean water. I am blessed to belong to a gym, and to be able to move my body and get exercise in fun ways, like Zumba class!
I am blessed to have a community of people through the Yoga I do, and through the style of dance that I do (Lindy Hop). I’m blessed to have many friends and followers on Facebook, and to be able to share love and light there daily.
I’m blessed to be able to listen to good jazz or salsa or belly-dancing or world beats music as I work during the day. I’m blessed to have a Mac Air laptop computer, and a smart phone, from which to work.
Be Surprised By Your Blessings!
Sometimes blessings come in small and surprising forms. For example, tonight I was at the gym and I bumped into someone with whom I went to high school. Back then, he was two years old than me, and I had a big crush on him.
All these years later, I remembered his face. He didn’t remember mine right away, but he seemed very pleasantly surprised that I knew who he was.
And he asked me a lot of questions about my life, and about how often I am at the gym, and when. I am pretty sure he will ask me out soon enough, and hey, why not go out with someone you crushed on in high school, all these years later!
One never knows! Here I am looking surprised and sweaty after receiving that unexpected blessing tonight:
I love letting joy and people surprise me!
What Are The Biggest Blessings In Your Life Right Now?
If we really wrote down every single blessing in our lives, right now, I bet all of us would have a pretty long list! In the course of every day life, if we’re not happy about how things are going, it’s easy to lose sight of our blessings.
But if we take stock of health, home, family, friends, food, water, a car to drive if we have one, all the abundance that surrounds us, work to do, money in the bank, sunshine and the fact that the sun rises every single day, no matter what kind of mood we are in, it’s ultimately a pretty amazing and beautiful world that we live in.
If we take it further and remember that life itself is a miracle, and that some scientists say that the odds of all of your ancestors surviving long enough to mate and produce you is about 1 in 400 trillion, and that there is only one of you in history, and that it’s remarkable that I have the technology to write this blog, and you have a computer or smart phone on which to read it, and we take pretty much all of that for granted most days – well, there are infinite numbers of reasons to be grateful, really.
Starting with the next breath that you take! Let’s be grateful today for this holiday, for our friends and families, for whatever fun holiday activities we might have planned, for every bite of every meal, and just for being here and alive and able to perceive and appreciate it all.
That, my friends, is a miracle for which we can all be incredibly grateful.