Here’s the gift of gratitude: In order to feel it, your ego has to take a backseat. What shows up in its place is greater compassion and understanding. Instead of being frustrated, you choose appreciation. And the more grateful you become, the more you have to be grateful for. ~Oprah Winfrey
The holidays are upon us and I know that stress levels can go off the charts. At moments, maintaining an energy of calm and peace may feel nearly impossible (with worries about having the proper ingredients for that perfect stuffing or making last minute travel arrangements for Mom and Dad - or finding flowers to match that particular shade of orange table linen, Ha! ) the season of giving thanks can feel more like the season of frazzled nerves, adrenalin overload and exhaustion.
If we are not mindful, time for the sacred giving of thanks will pass by without our ever fully experiencing the true essence of the holiday (to express appreciation for the magnitude of our blessings and open our hearts, minds and souls to give and receive with less fear and more flow).
While Thanksgiving is the time of the year we are reminded to fill our hearts with gratitude, there really is no limit on when or how much we can express our thankfulness. We need gratitude to nourish our soul, in the same way our hearts need connection, community and belonging and our bodies need oxygen, food and water.
A consistent, committed gratitude practice every day not only benefits our body and mind, but it aligns us with the higher vibration of love and connects us to Spirit, allowing us greater faith, grace, fortitude and abundance.
Below are some tips on how to stay fully present, living in the energy of gratitude during the holidays (and always). I hope they'll help you foster a more grateful heart and connect you more fully with the beauty of this holiday (and ultimately enable you to integrate sacred gratitude into your every day mindfulness or meditation practice).
Here are 6 ways to enhance your own gratitude practice.
1) Take five.
Allow yourself five minutes each morning to experience thankfulness. Take these moments to simply think about the past day. Say to yourself, “One thing I’m thankful for today is ___.” Fill in the blank with something you noticed from the last 24 hours. Think on it for a minute or so. Smile about it. Then go on with your morning.
2) Appreciate the stuff that doesn't cost a dime.
Open your eyes and your senses to the wonders all around you and you'll be astounded. A sunset, a warm cup of tea, or an ice-cold glass of water, the smell of night blooming jasmine, your nephew's impish smile or the friends and family who'll be around your holiday table. Inhale the essence of these blessings, savor them and hold them in your heart.
3) Re-frame negativity and shift your mindset.
Our thoughts have power over how we perceive and experience the world. When our thoughts are negative, they block our ability to feel gratitude and limit our awareness of our connection to Spirit. And, if you are anything like me, your default response setting is switched on to "negative" -- so, staying positive can take a concentrated and conscientious effort to counteract the unconscious programming.
My automatic reaction to unwanted events is to immediately jump to the conclusion that something "bad" and "scary" is happening. It is in this moment, when knee jerk fearful thinking sets in, that we need to create space to question our negative assumptions and re-frame them. Our negative programming is often hard-wired into us and in order to re-set it we need to create new habits. And like any practice, the ability to do so takes time and the willingness to keep trying even when we experience setbacks.
Remember that everything in life comes in the form of duality. Look at the goodness and benefits in your current struggles and ask what you can learn from them.
Ask yourself how you might see a challenging situation differently? Ask for the miracle of a shift in perception. Ask to be shown the gift or the blessing in this situation. Remind yourself that your thought is only a thought- and a thought can be changed.
When you catch yourself reverting to your default setting of thinking negatively, imagine a big stop sign and say, “Stop” out loud. Then, replace the stop sign with an image of something around you that you’re grateful for right at that moment.
You must replace a default state of pessimism or anger with one of determination, of will, of generosity, of curiosity, of gratitude. The more we can put ourselves in such beautiful states rather than suffering states, the more they become habits of being and we end up making better decisions. ~Tony Robbins
4) Keep a Gratitude Journal.
This is a powerful practice and provides a variety of benefits, including better quality sleep, increased immunity, greater levels of resilience, and improved mood.
To start a gratitude journal all you need is a few moments of undisturbed time, willingness to reflect, and a way to capture your thoughts,
You can start by reflecting on the following questions: What experiences in my life can I be grateful for? What happened lately that makes me feel thankful? What opportunities do I have today? Who in my life do I appreciate? What is a memory from the past that makes me smile? What is one thing I have today that I did not have (but wanted) a few years ago?
Writing helps you to organize thoughts, process information and experiences, and supports you in accepting your challenging times by putting them in context
5) Celebrate your victories and share your happy.
Share your happiness with others. When something gives you joy (or even just a little shot of "yippee") it can be very uplifting to share those upbeat feelings with others. Whatever makes you feel good - say it out loud and see how it feels. It could be anything....even “I'm totally in love with the color I painted the living room! It's a beautiful light teal color and when the sunlight reflects on it, it sparkles like the ocean, I am so glad I decided to go for it." This is a declaration of gratitude and appreciation. There is something magical about expressing our appreciation and happiness like this. It lights us up and strengthens our ability to recognize all of the positive aspects of our life and signals the Universe to send us more of the same good stuff so that we can shine even brighter.
This kind of guided meditation is designed to expand your capacity to feel unconditional gratitude. Besides opening your heart to appreciation, this tool is great for building lasting compassion toward yourself and others.
A gratitude meditation is a powerful method for creating unconditional, inclusive love that leads to higher consciousness, expanded awareness and true wisdom
Each time you consciously decide to experience your thankfulness, you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This holiday season, open your eyes, mind and heart to your blessings. Savor and reflect upon them. Gratitude is a sacred spiritual practice and this is the season for us to honor it.
And let me say "thank you for reading this." I am grateful for your support and participation in the Spiritual Compass Soul Tribe.
Best wishes for a beautiful, sacred season of gratitude and joy.
Love and light,
Claim your FREE 30-page "Cultivating Sacred Gratitude" Workbook and 12-page Journal HERE.