No practice has made a deeper impact in my life than the practice of gratitude. I have always said thank you here and there when things worked out right, however real gratitude is more than that. My practice really started about ten years ago when I had three young kids, a rambunctious seven-year-old and twin girls who were four. Everyday was difficult for me. I had transitioned from working full-time to suddenly being a full-time mother.
A lot of the qualities that were esteemed in my profession were insignificant while doing laundry, picking up toys, cooking etc. There weren’t any timelines or a sense of completing anything successfully. The more laundry you did the more there was to do. There were always dishes to wash and no matter how many times I organized you’d have to start over the next day. As much as I loved my family most days I was overwhelmed.
One day I came across a small magnet that was hand illustrated, it said, “start your day seeing what’s right instead of what’s wrong.” It was simply enough. Each day I started making an effort to notice what was right in my life at that moment. Every time I saw the den looking like a hurricane had blown throw it, I thought “I am grateful to have a house” most are not lucky enough to own their own home. Every time the laundry was piled high, I thought “I am grateful for all of our nice clothes” many people can’t afford to buy new clothes. When I was washing those big stacks of dishes I thought “I am so grateful for running water” there are places in the world with no running water. When my kids were running around like crazy little people I thought “I am so grateful for healthy children”, there are many kids with serious diseases.
Each day I found more and more things to be grateful for. They say, “the more you practice gratitude the more you will have to be grateful.” It is so true. Now, not a day goes by where I am not grateful for many things. I don’t even think about it anymore, its just a constant part my thoughts and my being.
Gratitude has helped me live a life in abundance, not just material things, it has also helped deepen relationships. When people feel appreciated their whole attitude changes. This simple practice has helped transform my life. It shifts your perception from thinking you lack anything because your busy being grateful for everything. Even if I lose (loss is an inevitable part of life), I am so grateful to have had the experience whatever it was. Gratitude is a game changer.
One of my goals is to inspire the practice of gratitude. For years now, I end all my classes by asking everyone to reflect on three thing they are grateful for. I can’t end it any other way because I am so grateful for being there. I am grateful for all the people who joined me. I’m grateful for my/our healthy bodies that allows us to enjoy yoga, and I am grateful for the beautiful studios I worked at. There’s so much to be grateful for.
Take this month of Thanksgiving and start a gratitude practice that lasts year-round. As I constantly remind my students, “no matter what’s s going on in our life there is always something to be grateful for.”