Grounded in gratitude
Gratitude for being — perhaps the key to positive change in your life
It’s difficult to blog while in the throws of emotional struggle and turmoil. Today I decided that’s exactly what I need to do. Many of you in the Nov. All-In Challenge Group have said you appreciate me “telling it like it is” and not sugar coating how difficult the process of healthy living and striving can be. So here you have it…
Sometimes it’s DAMN HARD to take care of ourselves and live our healthiest and happiest lives! Sometimes, just getting through the day is a challenge. Like when you feel depressed or sad to the bones. When you or the people you love are getting pummeled by things out of your/their control. For me, it’s the emotion that gets me. I feel everything, and my well worn path when I’m emotionally struggling is to stuff the feelings with food. Food = comfort (or numbing).
Well that’s no longer an option, so now what? How about getting grounded in gratitude?
The truth is, life throws us curve balls. Things ebb and flow and expand and contract. The down swings and tough times in our lives can challenge our resolve. Sometimes we revert to old, self-destructive patterns and behaviors. Sometimes we quit or throw in the towel for a time. We convince ourselves, we don’t care…it’s too hard…it doesn’t matter. Right?! Any of this sound familiar?
I’ve found that getting grounded in GRATITUDE can make a huge difference. Being truly thankful for being alive, puts me a state of soul-healing gratitude — of caring, desiring connection, wanting to be a better human. For me, a consciousness of gratitude can change everything and keep me mentally and emotionally on the path to healthy living and striving.
Practice gratitude — even and especially when you’re struggling
These past weeks as I’ve struggled mightily (read more on the pummeling here), the one thing that has pulled me back and grounded me every day is my daily gratitude practice.
For years, I’ve practiced gratitude in various forms varying from a daily gratitude ritual while walking first thing in the morning, to keeping a gratitude journal, to a gratitude jar, and more. A regular gratitude practice help put you in a conscious state of gratitude. Experts say it’s impossible to be in pain and suffering while in a state of gratitude — and I’ve found that to be true. The surest way to end my wallowing and focus on the negative is to become truly grateful. If you’ve never tried an active gratitude practice, I recommend reading some of the research about how gratitude can indeed motivate us to personal change and self-improvement (see links below).
But, I’d be fibbing if I told you it was easy to access this state of gratitude when we feel like we’re getting pummeled by life. It’s much easier to get caught up in the ups and downs of the day-to-day and to dismiss the idea all together. And that’s why I’m sharing my story.
My daily gratitude practice – just breathe & “be”
Because I don’t have much extra energy or focus these days, I decided to keep my current gratitude practice really simple and just commit to doing it consistently. For nearly two weeks straight, I’ve started my day by taking 15 to 30 min to do three simple things:
- Sit quietly and just breathe — In and out, inhaling and exhaling — taking at least 3 big breaths. Then I sit for 4-5 min. Sometimes I pray, sometimes I just try to clear my busy thoughts. But I start by becoming mindful, quiet and present.
- Then I listen to two songs on my I-phone “Amazing Grace” by Celtic Woman and “You Raise Me Up.” With my eyes closed and breathing, I just sit and listen to the words. Inevitably I become overwhelmed with gratitude…for being. Just for being me — healthy, happy and whole. I am grateful for my new body and physical strength, my internal courage and strength, and my new healthy life centered on self-love. Yep, I am greatly for my new life — even with all of its current challenges. I am grateful for my resilience amidst the pummeling. And, I most often end up feeling alive, safe, connected, strong and deeply grateful for being.
- I often read a daily meditation or jot notes in my journal — whatever comes up and wants to come out. But lately I don’t put any pressure on myself to journal, I just allow myself to “be” in a state of gratitude.
The gifts of gratitude for being
When I get to this state of conscious gratitude for being, it renders all else possible. And then I take it from there…one day, one step at a time.
I think it’s easier to be grateful when things are positive and going well in your life. You can probably make a list of 20 things you’re grateful for in a given day when you’re doing well and feeling happy. But when things are really, really, really hard…when you feel sad, helpless and depleted…when bad things happen that you can’t control — well, in those times when you’re able to tap into your gratitude for just being — it is very powerful and centering. Truthfully, I think it’s what’s keeping in the game these days.
I’ve noticed that this level of gratitude fills me with self-love and respect, allowing me to set better boundaries and prioritize taking care of myself while taking care of others. It keeps me focused on kindness and compassion for others, spurring me to greater and deeper connection. It helps me stay focused on doing the best I can and forgiving myself when I screw up. It helps me let go of all the stuff I can’t control and trust the Universe. It motivates me to become an even better person and to keep soaring. So, in essence this level of gratitude triggers self-improvement.
For now, this is my #1 commitment and ritual every day. And it’s working. It’s keeping me grounded and, for the most part, prevents me from living in a state of pain and suffering when I very easily could set up camp there. I still feel sad. I still have emotional outbursts with my friends occasionally as I try to process it all. I still cry. But it is different, it’s a grounded, grateful and hopeful sad. Does that make any sense?
I want to end my blog on this pre-Thanksgiving eve with a heartfelt THANK YOU to each of you for reading this and being part of the In-the-Equation community. And I especially want to thank those of you who have reached out to me personally with notes of encouragement and stories of your own.
May you have a Happy & Healthy Thanksgiving — however you define it. I hope it means that you will be in-your-equation — however you define that. And that you will find a moment to be thankful just for being YOU.
After all, you are pretty awesome.
Read some of my other blogs on gratitude and having a healthy holiday:
- Managing holiday expectations — the Healthy Holiday Action Plan (Nov. 2016)
- Yes! A healthy, happy holiday is possible (Nov. 2015)
- Gratitude works! #Grateful (Nov. 2015)
- Six tips for self-care during the holidays (Nov. 2014)
- Grateful to be in the equation (Nov. 2013)
- Gratitude or Good Things Jar – Love in 2013 (Jan. 2013)
- The daily practice of gratitude (Nov. 2012)
Some of my favorite research on how gratitude works:
- How gratitude changes you and your brain, Greater Good Magazine (June 2017)
- 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round, Forbes, (2014)
- How expressing gratitude might change your brain, NY Magazine, (Jan. 2016)
- In praise of gratitude, Harvard Health Publishing (Nov. 2011)