For 2019 I am going with a simple commitment to practice daily gratitude. I’m looking for all the benefits the science tells me I can access when gratitude is more present in my life. But there is a catch. When we approach something like gratitude it is easy to “check this box”. In order for gratitude to truly provide the scientific benefits to our well-being that we seek we need to attend to it in a mindful way, one that involves more than just listing something for which we are grateful. We need to feel it and to know it. True gratitude is expressed through our head, our heart and our intuition. Tapping into all three of those areas takes a bit of time, not a long time, but intentional time. Here is an example.
On my first day of writing down something I was grateful for I listed “I am grateful for my warm and comfortable home”. Done. 10 seconds. Wow, this commitment was going to be a snap to keep! Not so fast. As I look back through what I have written so far, all of the things I’ve noted sound good, but I am not writing this for others, I am writing this for myself, and those items are also sounding quite hollow to my ears. We get better at doing things with practice and this is one of those times for me. I sat down with my book and really thought about what I had written and then something interesting came up.
While I am truly grateful for my warm and comfortable home, it is not what really matters to me. When I paused and really thought about it, I am grateful for the ability to care for and create a warm and cozy home. When I unpacked that, there was depth to it. I have not always had the mobility I enjoy today, and that meant my home was cluttered and unkempt as a busy household will quickly become when one of the adult members is side-lined. I also realized that as time goes on our house of three floors will not always meet our family’s needs; we may want to down-size or live without stairs. This is a likely reality in the distant future, but I know that a house is more then it’s architecture, and I feel confident that wherever we live we can create the kind of spaces we enjoy living in, in all stages of our lives.
I am grateful for everything that enables me to have a warm and cozy home, my health, my employment, my creativity, my family. In acknowledging all of that my head, heart and intuition are now all present and I can feel that rich goodness that science says comes with being grateful, and not just a few times a year, but each and every day. I am calmer, I smile more. Give yourself some goodness each day too, and see what it can do for you.
“…is not a passive response to something we have been given, gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. Gratitude is not necessarily something that is shown after the event, it is the deep a priori state of attention that shows we understand and are equal to the gifted nature of life.” ~ David Whyte, Consolations