As we celebrate Thanksgiving in the U.S., there is a lot of talk about gratitude. Thanksgiving is a holiday of harvest and abundance; reminding us to bask in the gifts of our lives and to generously give to others. It’s easy to experience gratitude when we are on vacation, or on a mountain top (literal or figurative), out in nature, with the breeze in our hair and our daily responsibilities far from the forefront of our minds.
But what about experiencing gratitude in the middle of a Tuesday? Or during a process of loss or uncomfortable growth? Or on one of those days where everything just seems to be going wrong? How can we connect to the magic of life that is here for us at any given moment and how does it benefit us to do so?
The secret to instant gratitude lies in the present moment.
Let’s face it – most of the time our focus is on the past or the future. We become consumed thinking about how things could have occurred differently in the past or we loose ourselves worrying about how things might come together in the future. How often have you replayed a past experience over and over in your mind? Or how often does your to-do list lure you into daydreaming or wanting to be somewhere else?
Residing in the past or the future is disempowering because we are only truly at choice in this very present moment. Living in the present moment empowers us because we can seize each moment as an opportunity to be at choice – with our thoughts, words, decisions, actions, beliefs and vibration. It is the only place where we get to change our mind and course correct. It is the only place where we get to notice gratitude, where we get to take a risk, to open and share ourselves. The present moment is actually where we get to heal the past and where we can truly influence our future – how perfectly ironic. Therefore, giving most of our awareness and attention to this very moment allows us to shift and mold our lives.
This very moment is where our opportunity lies to become grateful. It is our doorway to awakening to everything and anything that exists right now, right here, for us, as a blessing. When we focus on what is working and we awaken to what is truly available for us NOW, then we can begin to align ourselves with our ultimate life and truth. This is where the real magic takes place.
So how do we actually become present and once we are, how do we truly feel grateful and believe it? Awakening to the blessings of the present moment is a practice that requires life long cultivation. Just like practicing to speak up, learning to consistently act out of integrity and self love, being present to life’s magic requires that we strengthen a new muscle and make it part of our natural, daily approach to life. I find it’s something I’ve worked on for years and I sense I will continue to cultivate this practice for the rest of my days.
Tips For Becoming Present:
1. Pause. Most of us function on auto-pilot throughout the day, running from one activity to the next, trying to cross everything off of the to do list. In this state, we are focused on what’s next. We completely skip over ourselves and miss the opportunity to experience the magic of our truth in any given moment. To get present throughout the day, simply pause. If you are walking, running errands, driving around, etc., simply stop what you are doing and press pause for a minute. In that minute, breathe and close your eyes. Tune in. Ask yourself: what do I feel right now? What is my experience of life right now? The words “right now” are your entry ticket to the present moment. There is no need to do anything about how you feel. Simply feel it, acknowledge it and become present to what your experience actually is.
2. Use your body. The body is an enormous asset when it comes to getting present. It is the number one doorway to this very moment. Wherever you are (paused or moving), ask yourself: how does my heart feel right now? How does my butt feel on the chair? What do I feel in my neck or back?
3. Breathe. Our breath is the most consistent miracle that exists for us at any time. When we are moving too quickly through life we forget to breathe. Allow yourself to sit still and simply focus on the ebb and flow of your breath. In and out. In and out. All you have to do in this very moment is breathe. That’s it really. Bring your awareness to your experience of the enriching inhale and the cleansing exhale. Try to keep your focus on your breath for up to 3 minutes instead of letting your mind wander. If your mind wanders simply catch it without judgment and return to your breath.
Once we learn to become present to ourselves and our experience of the moment, we can begin to truly cultivate gratitude. Here are some easy ways to do so:
Tips For Cultivating Gratitude:
1. Focus on the tiny things. It’s very easy to get stuck in “Stickin’ Thinking” when we are focusing on the big things, such as love or a new job, that we don’t yet have. The key to finding gratitude and cultivating abundance is to become grateful for all of the tiny little things that we normally take for granted. Ie: be grateful for your fingers and toes. Be grateful for your breath. Be grateful for your couch and the roof over your head. Be grateful for electricity. Be grateful for the person who held the door open for you earlier today. By acknowledging these tiny blessings, we suddenly begin to feel all of the miracles around us. There is indeed a lot to be grateful for.
2. Gratitude as a first thought. Before opening your eyes in the morning, train yourself to think of all that you are grateful for. You might be grateful for the cozy warmth of your bed, grateful for a full night’s rest, grateful for your family and the people you work with, grateful for the love of your pets, grateful for the delicious, nutritious breakfast you are about to consume, grateful for your connection to spirit, grateful for the fact that you get to take a hot shower. Having gratitude immediately upon rising will shift your energy and ultimately set the stage for generating more abundance and positive circumstances throughout your day.
3. Express your gratitude. Thinking carries it’s own vibration, but voicing our gratitude has an even greater impact. Throughout your day practice expressing your thanks to the postman, the grocery clerk, your neighbor, and most importantly your loved ones. Every year at Thanksgiving my whole family will go around the dinner table and we each get a chance to voice what we are grateful for. It is so wonderful just sitting in the energy of everyone’s gratitude. There is laughter, joy and sometimes, even tears. This open hearted sharing brings us closer together and connects us more deeply to our loved ones and the miracle of life.
4. Shift your energy with gratitude. Sometimes life will “derail” us. We have a plan, we have a dream or goal and somewhere along the way things don’t turn out as we expected (for more on this topic, you can read my blog about learning to let go of our attachment to expectation). When this happens, it can be incredibly frustrating, yet this is the precise opportunity to return to the present moment. Each experience is a blessing, a teacher, a gift. When we can become grateful, we can open up yet again to all that is going right. To do so, take a step back and begin to collect evidence for all of the positive aspects of your current situation. Really tap into the gratitude that you have for the people you met along your journey, the lessons you have learned and the new experiences you gathered. Notice how quickly your energy shifts by appreciating all the magic and gifts that are here for you NOW, even though things are different than you expect.
We are in the season of gratitude, the joyous time of year where we get to connect with our loved ones, have cozy gatherings and tune into ALL the abundance, wonderment and positive blessings that are here for us.
Are you ready to up level your life and maneuver through this holiday season from a place of power and grace? Becoming present and cultivating gratitude are your ticket to doing so. My invitation to you is to take time throughout your day to notice where you are, to feel your body’s signals and to indulge in a deep breath or two. In the moments that you are off course pause, breath and find three tiny things in your life that you can be grateful about. I invite you to share what those things are in the comments below!
I am deeply grateful to connect with you here and to share my inspiration and passion with you. I acknowledge you for taking the time to invest in yourself and I wish you a most joyous, vibrant and deeply meaningful holiday season!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.