Practicing Gratitude

How was your Thanksgiving?  I hope that in addition to enjoying food, friends, and family, you also took a moment to be thankful for the nice things in your life.

For example, I am thankful for you reading, commenting, and sharing this blog.

Gratitude has become a big topic in the zeitgeist these days.  I don’t remember it being such a “thing” when I was younger.  Of course, you were supposed to practice gratitude on Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t a trendy, daily practice type thing. When I stopped to think about it, it is something that seems like it has been building over maybe the past ten years into something that is now ubiquitous.

Maybe seven years ago, I met a neuroscientist who was doing research on the health impacts of gratitude.  I don’t remember all of the methodologies, but the punchline was that there was some sort of measurable, physical benefit.  Apparently, it was a big up-and-coming area of study because now it seems like there is all sorts of scientific research about the positive impacts of practicing gratitude.

I was recently in charge of the impromptu speaking portion of my Toastmasters meeting.  The theme for the meeting was gratitude.  I did a quick google search of gratitude practices and came across the practice of a gratitude jar.  I’m not sure how you’re really supposed to do it, but for my purposes, I cut a bunch of scraps of paper and wrote random things that I would be grateful for.  Then, everyone had to draw a scrap from the jar and speak for one minute about how they are grateful for whatever it was.

I’ll tell you what, I did not expect it to be such a challenge!  I mean there were things like “books,” and “friends,” and “vacation” in the jar.  Two things that really got recipients flummoxed were “apples,” and “cats.” 

I love apples.  I am very grateful for the delicious taste sensation of sliced apple with cheese. But there are so many delightful apple applications to be grateful for – not the least of which is apple pie.  Don’t you agree?  Somehow, this was a stumper.

And cats goes without saying.  If you can’t even pretend to be grateful for cats, I’m not sure what to tell you.

My favorite thanksgiving gratitude practice is taking a yoga class and I have a favorite memory from a few years ago.  It was a usual, beautiful southern California day and I rode my bike down to yoga on the bluff.  I was just telling Mr. Man about how the memory of that day reminds me of so many things that I am grateful for: my pink bike, beautiful California weather, and practicing yoga outside with a whole mess of characters from every walk of life while looking out at the Pacific Ocean.

Like everything else, it is important not to overdo it on gratitude on Thanksgiving and then neglect to practice it for the rest of the year. A moderate amount of gratitude on a regular basis is what is recommended for optimum results.  Try to find one little thing every day, see if you feel a difference.

2 Replies to “Practicing Gratitude”

  1. Teddy class did gratitude jar last year. I should go find it an see what he was grateful for. This year he has to do a presentation in front of his class, and he said he was thankful for his family because they are silly.

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