By Breanne Szabados
Gratitude. It can sometimes feel like a pretty loaded word/concept these days. Oftentimes, it is billed as the solution to a lot of life’s big problems. If we would only keep a gratitude journal, it would change our lives. I have conflicted feelings about having a regular gratitude practice. When it is forced, it seems to lose its luster and becomes the opposite of what it is meant to be and the positive impact we want it to make. I absolutely think that gratitude is also magical and does make a huge impact on our quality of life and the abundance that we attract. So, how do we find the balance between forcing gratitude and being genuinely grateful? I’m not sure I have the answer, but I want to explore some ideas. I signed up for a gratitude practice with a group for the month of February, so I can experiment with some different ways of exploring gratitude for myself and hearing what others have to share about the topic.
I find that being present has a huge impact on gratitude. For instance, when I am sitting at the park on a gorgeous, sunny day and looking at the incredible view of the ocean in the distance with a good book to read and a delicious coffee to savor, there are countless things to be grateful for in that moment. And, when I am present in that moment, I am more equipped to notice these things and truly be in a moment of gratitude. But, that is not how we move about most of our days. Instead, we are usually rushing from place to place, working, getting things done, and missing a great deal of things that we can be grateful for. It isn’t that those things aren’t there in those moments, it’s that we are not truly present, and so we miss them. We simply don’t take the time to notice them. In that case, is the answer to an embodied gratitude practice being present in each moment so we have the capacity to notice the things that make us grateful in the first place? I think that is definitely one aspect that is vital to gratitude. It also doesn’t feel forced, it feels magical in those moments. Those are the moments that I want more of, but seem to struggle to find on most days.
Stepping outside of our routines is another thing that makes gratitude easier to access for me. When I am outside of my usual day-to-day, I find more things to be grateful for and can more easily find gratitude for the things in my everyday life. Sometimes when we are bogged down with our normal schedules and work days, we are on autopilot and not even noticing all of the things that we have or do that elicit gratitude. I guess this also comes back to presence, doesn’t it? It is easier to be present when we are outside of our norm, because we usually are more present and not just coasting through our days.
Now that we are past the first month of the year, many people may still be focused on their resolutions for the year. For me, I am instead choosing to focus on gratitude. Finding what works for me in terms of a gratitude practice and finding ways to make it more of an embodied, authentic practice instead of one more thing to cross off my to-do list every day.