The Practice Of Gratitude

By Lauren

  • Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to engage in the practice of gratitude
  • Gratitude gives us the power to rest in any situation with grace, dignity, and hope
  • Join our newsletter and get access to Lauren's exclusive 10-minute guided gratitude mediation!

Gratitude is a medicinal emotion. It’s an attitude of “have” versus “want.” Pause for a moment. How does it feel when you say to yourself, “have” versus “want?” I don’t know about you, but when my inner voice says, “have,” my breath expands, my heart softens, and I feel open and receptive. When my inner voice says, “want,” my chest contracts, my breath becomes shallow, and I feel the corners of my eyes constrict. What is it like for you?

Sadly our cultural narrative is permeated by lack. We scroll through social media and rather than feeling an increase in connection, we perceive an unreal scarcity in our lives. Sanchita Pandey said, “Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.” This is important: it’s ok to want things! It’s ok to want GREAT things for yourself, your family, and your community. But, if your happiness is contingent on something to be attained in the future, something outside of yourself, then it isn’t happiness at all.

When your wants drive you to despair, you have lost your way. When your beautifully created vision board becomes a board full of “things I don’t have and am miserable without,” it’s no longer useful. Ask, “is my happiness conditional?” Rather than a daily exercise in list writing, consciously cultivating gratitude as a fundamental core value can be transformational.

Gratitude has a notable impact on your overall well-being. People who practice gratitude experience fewer aches and pains, sleep better, have higher rates of resiliency, experience increased self-esteem, increased immunity, happiness, energy, optimism, and empathy. But, did you know that in order for gratitude to be truly impactful you must expand on WHY you are so grateful? Expanding on why helps to bolster the positive experiences in your life and invites those memories to stick around longer. In turn this increases your feeling of connectedness and can help reinforce your generous behavior.

The next time you feel gratitude for a person or experience in your life, dig into why. What about this are you so grateful? What was particularly special about the moment or memory? Dr. Rick Hanson often shares the reminder that soaking in the good moments of life helps the brain to absorb them like a sponge and gives our positive experiences more meaning and priority in the databank of our lives.

Gratitude can help you suffer less, appreciate more, and revel in the incredible beauty of the moment right in front of you. If you’re sick and tired of feeling like you don’t have enough or that you aren’t enough, gratitude will help. The question is, when pain, grief, resentment, or challenge inevitably arise in your life, can you be courageous enough to act with gratitude? It will feel vulnerable and foreign. It will require that you show up in your life in an entirely new way. It will mean when people call you to compare and complain you must be strong enough to say, “I no longer engage in conversations that pull at my mind and heart that way.”

Behavior change isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. When gratitude resides in your life as a leading core value it gives you the power to rest in any situation with grace, dignity, and hope. On this beautiful Thanksgiving Day, I hope you'll take ten minutes to engage in this life-changing practice of gratitude with me - join our newsletter for access to my guided meditation audio file~  

*Edited from The Core Value of Gratitude *