November is National Gratitude Month!
The ‘attitude of gratitude’ is finally having its day . . . or an entire month! Research focused on the benefits of cultivating more gratitude in your life is showing many measurable psychological, physical and interpersonal benefits, such as lower blood pressure, less feelings of isolation and loneliness, and higher levels of positive emotions, including compassion. If you are interested, you can read my personal experience below (Heart and Soul Healing Reflections) to learn how the practice of writing down what we are grateful for significantly impacted my own journey of healing, inspired by a recent research study validating this anecdotal experience.
Also, below I have offered some simple practices you might explore to celebrate this month and kick start your own gratitude practices. I encourage you to set a global intention as you try out some of these practices of focusing on your heart center and lean into the sensation of creating space for expanding the sense of appreciation, for what we have in our lives, for others and for ourselves.
- Say Thank You! As we grew up, somewhere along the line, we were told to say “Please” and “Thank You” to others that do something kind for us to be polite. Maybe our ancestors instinctively sensed that the act of saying “Thank You” had a more profound purpose. My suggestion for consideration is to delve a bit deeper into the act of expressing this form of appreciation to another by bringing more awareness to this expression, being more conscious in our choice of when, how and to whom we express it. For example, instead of simply saying “Thank You’ to someone that holds the door open for you as you enter a store, you might slow down and say “Thank you for being so kind and considerate to take the time to hold the door for me today. I truly appreciate it”. And then watch, listen and sense into the response! And, if you are feeling even more adventurous, you might try it with a dear friend or family member. Set an intention in the morning to catch a loved one “doing something good” and when you do observe them in the act, stop and thank them for what they did.
- Focus on the Positive. Even when things in our life don’t go as planned, if you take some time to sit with the experience, you will be able to discover a unexpected benefit of the change in plans. By doing so does not necessarily diminish the immediate impact of the sadness or disappointment; however, searching and finding the silver lining and appreciating the benefit has the amazing power of shifting us into an experience of more positive energy, creating space for a more balanced, equilibrated perspective and sense of being. Consider trying it out today!
- Create kindness. Here’s a fun idea you can do as a craft with friends and family and then share with anyone and everyone. Collect a bunch of rocks and write something kind on each one. Then go around your neighborhood or office park and place them where they can be easily found. To read more about this movement started by Megan Murphy, check out this website: https://www.thekindnessrocksproject.com. Trust that your message will find the right person at just the right time to change their life! After you have placed your rock messages around, take some time to sit with yourself and reflect on how the experience in your heart has expressed itself.
- Honor our Service Members. Feeling like you might want to stretch yourself a bit this month and go beyond our borders? Perhaps consider writing a ‘thank you’ note or letter to a Service member. Our Active Duty Service members are dedicated to making a difference in our lives without even knowing us. And, although they may not admit it to many, combat is a scary place, even more so without the comforts of home for some solace. Receiving an unexpected thank you from a stranger, acknowledging their contributions and sacrifice, might just fan their internal flame of dedication and validate their motivation to serve and protect our freedoms. Check out Operation Gratitude to learn more about sharing your appreciation with the troops and cracking your own heart wide open!
- Write a letter to yourself! Or maybe this month you are feeling a bit more reflective and sensing your heart needs a more intimate approach to cultivating gratitude. Then may I recommend writing a ‘thank you’ letter to yourself. The ultimate practice of kindness might be to express kindness to yourself. See if you can identify at least 10 aspects that you love about yourself. Maybe ask someone you care about deeply to do this practice with you and consider sharing what you come up with by saying them out loud to each other. Again, sit a few moments afterwards to sense into the experience, especially noting the sensations around the heart. I would love to hear about your observations!