And so again, Thanksgiving is upon us. The holiday in which we are reminded to give thanks as we celebrate time with family and the abundance of the fall harvest. Honestly though, gratitude becomes so cliche around Thanksgiving that it is almost easy to breeze right over it. We focus on having a big meal, on travel and on holiday shopping. Or, we are grateful for a day or two and then go back to normal. What would it be like to always see life through the lens of 'thanks'?
In my personal world, I have an enormous amount to be grateful for at this time. I just got married 10 days ago! Woo hoo!! It was the most thrilling, authentic and celebratory experience I've ever had and I can honestly say that I am over the moon happy. It's easy for me to look at life with grateful eyes right now. But what about those times when it's not easy? What about when life gives us lemons? What does it mean to possess an "Attitude of Gratitude" and how do we cultivate that?
THE HOBBLING BRIDE
Two weeks before my wedding I sprained my ankle. In a clumsy, frenetic moment in which I was running around scattered, I tripped and injured myself. I couldn't believe it. A sprained ankle before the wedding?! How was I going to dance or to walk down the aisle? What about the fabulous heels that I bought for the occasion? After a short lived solitary pity party in which I came to terms with the disappointment of adjusting to unexpected circumstances, I realized that a gift had been placed in my lap. Ironically, the thing I wanted most was to be well rested and grounded before my wedding weekend. The Universe delivered. Despite the pain and the frustration of hobbling around during one of the most important weeks of my life, I was given the chance to slow down. I slept a ton, caught up on my emails and actually enjoyed reading a book before my wedding. And thanks to my sprained ankle, I ended up wearing cowboy boots under my wedding dress, which is the most fun thing I've done in a while! It put me in the most festive mood! Most importantly, I truly began to see everything through a lens of gratitude. I leaned on gratitude and it came through for me, shifting my focus to the truly important things, showing me how much love exists around me whether I'm in heels or in my pajamas. I became grateful for my body that has the power to heal itself. I became grateful for my legs, my arms, my breath, my toes and for the strength and generosity of the people around me. It connected me to grace and spirit during a very special time in my life. That is the power of gratitude.
Possessing an Attitude of Gratitude means looking at the glass half full and focusing on all that is going well for you regardless of the current circumstances. It means seeing the gift in everything. During the week of my honeymoon, my extended family members in Israel experienced the frightening reality of being surrounded by political unrest - literally running into bomb shelters to protect themselves and their children. Who am I to complain? There is way too much to be grateful for. We take the basics for granted.
FOUR EASY TIPS
Cultivating gratitude is actually quite easy. It can be done within a matter of seconds, any time, any place. All it requires is having your focus on it. Like with anything in life, what we focus on becomes our reality. Here are a few of my favorite ways to open to gratitude and look at life through the eyes of 'thanks':
1. Wake Up Grateful. Before getting out of bed, mentally list 5-10 things you are grateful for. I recommend starting small and taking nothing for granted - be grateful that you have a bed, be grateful for your cozy comforter, be grateful to your body that breaths on it's own while you sleep, be grateful for the morning sun, etc.
2. Start A Gratitude Journal. At the end of each day list 10 things that you are grateful for in your life. Simply by taking note of this, actually writing it down every day, your whole life can change. Be grateful for the person who held the door open for you, be grateful for the smile from the stranger, be grateful that your pen still has ink in it, be grateful for your children's curiosity.
3. Be Grateful For What Is To Come. It is incredibly rewarding and uplifting to be grateful for all that is coming our way. Yes, having gratitude for those things that haven't happened yet! This is especially powerful when we are feeling down or sorry for ourselves with regard to a certain situation. For example, being grateful for your soul mate who is making their way towards you at this very moment can turn loneliness into excited anticipation and hope. Being grateful for the unknown possibilities and surprises of the coming year can turn year-end gloom into wonderment, spontaneity and possibility. All that is coming our way is a gift. It's easy to forget this. Think of how grateful you are for the friends you have in your life now whom you didn't yet know ten years ago. Imagine all of the wonderful people you will know and love in a few years from now!
4. See The Gift In Everything. Yes, everything. See the gift in your health crisis. See the gift in your relationship crisis. What are these things awakening you to? What blessings and opportunities are being divinely handed to you? Sometimes it is our most challenging interpersonal relationships that establish the playing field for personal growth by teaching us surrender, forgiveness, authenticity, compassion and empowerment. Aren't you a better, more grounded and loving person because of this? Haven't these dynamics helped you in other areas of your life? See the gift in your loss. Even grief can present the opportunity to relish in the precious moments that were had with another. There is always opportunity to see the blessing and to be grateful for what you've had and currently have. Magic is all around.
ONE MORE TIME
I was recently exposed to a very simple gospel song titled "One More Time". The lyrics are "One more time. One more time. He's allowed us to come together one more time". Regardless of whether you believe in God or if God is male, female, etc., the message within these lyrics is clear: be grateful that we've been given yet another opportunity to come together again at this time. It's miraculous and special and beautiful that life has worked out such that we can share in this experience together right now. Be grateful.
So I invite you to be grateful this holiday season. Be grateful for the people around you at the table. Be grateful for the food that nourishes your body and brings you together. Be grateful that you have a home and a table to sit at. Be grateful that you have money to spend while you are amongst the overwhelming holiday crowds. Be grateful that you have legs to carry you through the stores. Be grateful that you have people to give gifts to and people to receive love from. Be grateful that you can breath in the fresh holiday air one more time. Practice looking at life through the lens of "Thanks". I'll bet you'll be thankful you did.
I'd like to extend a huge THANK YOU to my amazing coaching clients, group and workshop participants, my readers and Facebook followers. I am in awe of your willingness to show up and evolve yourselves daily. It is a true honor and joy to be on the path with you. Thank you to my phenomenal community of friends and colleagues who provide connection, inspiration, laughs, support and truth as I express myself and my purpose fully in this life. Thank you to my beautifully loving family and to my newly extended family who cheer me on and provide a sense of home, foundation and love. And most of all, thank you, thank you, thank you to my most special husband, who is the rest bed to my heart, the perfect companion to my soul and the most illuminated mirror of love in my life. It is a blessing to walk the path in partnership with you.
Wishing all of you and your loved ones a most joyous, illuminated and nourishing holiday season!
Happy, happy Thanksgiving!