In yoga class this morning, the teacher, who is also an elementary school art teacher, told us that she asked her students if they knew the meaning of gratitude. One child raised his hand and said, "It's the force that pulls us down!" The teacher smiled, and said, "You're close. It sounds like you are talking about gravity. Gratitude is kind of the opposite – it is a force that helps lift us up!"
And, it made me think about how gratitude can help us to overcome any stress or tension we are feeling around the holidays. If we stop and take the time, every day, to think about the things we are grateful for in our lives, we tend to feel happier, more optimistic, and healthier. Most of us can count among our blessings a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, friends and family whom we love and who love us, our health, and much more.
Every day we are surrounded by these blessings – we just have to remember to notice them. For example, many of us have a tendency to take our close family members for granted – we may become annoyed with their quirky habits and forget the things that we find charming about them, or we may just forget about how much they enrich our lives. But, we can switch our perspective by taking time each day to think of all the positive ways in which they have influenced our lives. We can consider the little things they have taught us, the events we have experienced together, or the new places, ideas, and people they have introduced to us. Although Thanksgiving is a nice reminder, you don't need a holiday to appreciate all that you have. Taking time to give thanks for the good things in your life, every day, can help you appreciate the now.
A friend recently told me about Gratefulness.org. It has been around since 2000, showing people how to cultivate gratitude in their daily lives. I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before now, but I am very grateful to have found it!