This next week-end is Thanksgiving in Canada. It’s a bit too early for my friends living in lower latitudes but here the wild geese have already flown to Florida. Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude and celebration although that celebration comes traditionally at the expense of many innocent birds. In an agricultural society the feeling of gratitude at harvest time was probably spontaneous and sincere. Today, we are so removed from Mother Earth and its cycles that expressing gratitude at this time might feel a bit artificial. Nevertheless, cultivating gratitude has always been praised by all religions and now medical science confirms that it makes us happier and healthier. It is always good to hear what we already know because who has not experienced the positive effects of gratefulness?
When I am grateful my heart expands and I feel love, my nervous system relaxes and for a moment I have peace of body and mind. I briefly forget about my desires and fears and I trust. It’s a bit like jumping into the abyss because what will happen if my expression of gratefulness is not acknowledged or returned or if I am denying reality? Actually gratitude only works when we are grateful for something real and denial is not the answer. But it is true that it takes some courage to let go of our doubts, fears, worries and, in general, our negative baggage which we carry with us most of the time.
By practicing gratefulness I have slowly come to trust its amazing results. The feelings of relaxation, peace and contentment do not take long to manifest. Gratitude is indeed a very valuable antidote to anxiety, alienation and sadness. In the after-glow of gratitude it is even possible to glimpse that we are whole and complete just as we are, lacking nothing.
Gratitude should be practiced all the time. Just as we take a life-saving medication every day we should get our daily dose of gratitude. There is always something to feel grateful for: a sunny day, a rainy day, a roof over our heads, a beautiful flower, an Autumn leaf, our walking feet, our listening ears, the next breath, etc, etc…
Gratitude, like everything else, can be learned. Here are some guidelines to start with until gratitude becomes a habit, a way of thinking and being:
- When waking up and before going to sleep think about 3 objects of gratitude
- Every day tell a spouse, friend, etc… something you appreciate about them.
- Look at yourself in the mirror and say something you like about yourself.
And when you see some dark clouds approaching, quickly make a long list of things you are grateful for. I have also re-published below my audio recording on love and gratitude and the chakras. Enjoy it!