The Power of Gratitude

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.
And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”
—  Maya Angelou
 
 
Each Thanksgiving, my family (and oftentimes, friends of mine and my brothers’) would go around the table and state one thing we were thankful for that year.  Although, we only did this ONCE in a year, it always filled me with such love and warmth.  It brought inside me a feeling of abundance and a knowing that all is okay.  It’s not because everything in our lives was perfect, but it was because we brought our focus and attention to what was going right in that moment.  It shifted our perceptions of ourselves and of each other. 
 
The truth is that gratitude has the power to change our lives.  We all have things in our lives that don’t go as planned.  We all have things we wish and hope we had or didn’t have.  It’s hard to feel gratitude at times when we’ve lost loved ones, when we’re in financial turmoil, or when our health falters.  It is okay to grieve those losses.  It’s ok if we don’t have all the answers.  But know this:  When you choose to focus on gratitude, you open the channels for all good to flow toward you and through you.  It changes how you see yourself, your surroundings, and your circumstances.  Instead of focusing on the lack, appreciate the small things in your life that you already have now.  How have they added to the myriad of blessings that exist for you in this moment?
 
I hope your Thanksgiving day was full of warmth, love, family, and friends.  And through the holiday season, and hopefully beyond, I hope that you choose to invite gratitude into your heart and allow the power of it to grace your wellness quotient.  I am grateful to each one of you that visits this site.  Its success has been fueled by you!    
 
Many blessings to you and to your families!
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A Grateful Loss

I just finished watching one of my favorite shows on the FOOD NETWORK – The Next Food Network Star.  I watched as one of the contestants, Mary Beth Albright (a food writer from Washington DC), was voted off by the selection committee.  She made a statement through her tears as she left the studio that made me think.  She said, “A lot of people…….don’t get an opportunity like the one I’ve had.  How can I be anything but grateful?“. 

I thought about gratitude, as I neared the end of a tough week.  It was one of those weeks where I felt a general sense of uneasiness and tension about little things that weren’t going as planned.  As a result, my body felt weak and exhausted.  (Remember the effects of feeding the Mind-Body loop?  You can feed it in a positive, as well as negative way!)  The negative cycle can literally drown you unless you swim hard to the top, or, in my case, have someone that pulls you out .  Today, that person was my mother.  She reminded me to feel grateful.  She reminded me of all the little things were going right.  There were hundreds of them.  The most amazing thing was that, after I got off the phone with her, I had a complete change in attitude.  All of a sudden, my energy shifted and the world looked brighter.  Just like Mary Beth, I thought, “How could I be anything but grateful?” 

As I fed my mind positive thoughts, my body ate them up and I felt energized.  I went for a long run and felt gratitude for my health.  I caught up with friends and felt gratitude for the people in my life.  I cooked a delicious meal and felt gratitude for the beautiful food on my plate.  As I continued to focus on what was good, I found more things to be grateful for.  That’s the gift we receive when we feed our minds with appreciation.   

Yes, we all have issues in our lives that stump us and slow us down, and they are REAL.  But also remember that what we focus on, multiplies.  Problems escalate when we keep hitting the RE-PLAY button in our brains – the negative feedback loop.   Though we may intuitively recognize the importance of feeling gratitude in our day to day lives, sometimes it’s just too hard to hit the STOP button.  In those cases, create an outlet or lean on the  people that can remind you of your strengths.  Even a little dose of positivity can create a shift in vibration.  

So maybe Mary Beth Albright won’t be the Next Food Network Star.  And perhaps some might think she lost the competition.  But I think that in her own heart she feels she has won.  Now that’s something to be grateful for! 

Deepali’s Piece of Wellness:  What can you do to create a feeling of gratitude during rocky times?  Are there books, rituals, or people you can lean on to remind you to focus on what is good? 

Attitude of Gratitude

Each night before I go to bed, I silence my mind and give thanks for the events of my day and also for the good that is yet to come.  For a long time, it was harder for me to give thanks for the moments that had been particular challenging on a given day or for the situations in which I had struggled.  Going down the “why me” path was always so much easier and required little to no attention.  Just as the pathway to a knee-jerk reflex does not involve looping through the brain, so is the incessant, negative self-talk we give ourselves.  The only way to break the cycle is to be present (as we discussed last week) and be grateful

Feeling gratitude is one of the kriyas that can truly send your wellness quotient flying, not to mention change your life in the process.  There has been a lot of research showing that those who practice an attitude of gratitude have a more positive outlook on life, improved social connections, and better sleep patterns.  Dr. Robert Emmons from the University of California, Davis (my alma mater!) is currently developing a tool to measure the level of gratitude people show in their lives. 

So, why should we adopt an attitude of gratitude?  I came up with 5 of my own reasons:

1.  What we focus on, multiplies.  When we focus on what is going right in our lives, we find that our lives actually begin to feel quite abundant.  We find so many things to be thankful for, just by taking a few minutes to re-focus. 

2.  We feel happier.  Who wouldn’t be happy when they focus on what they have, not what they lack. 

3.  It reminds us of what’s important in life.  It’s harder to complain about your work, when you are grateful for having a job.  It’s harder to feel sorry for yourself, when you are grateful for having a family that loves you.  It’s harder to be upset about home renovations, when you are grateful to have a home not affected by a tsunami. 

4.  It allows us to appreciate those around us.  It’s so important to acknowledge the people in your lives.   Thank that stranger for letting you have the parking spot.  Compliment your best friend if you like her outfit.  Tell someone why you’re grateful to have them in your life.  It will make their day….and yours!

5.  We are able to exude a positive vibe.  When we display gratitude, it makes others want to jump on the bandwagon and think about what they are thankful for also.  It is infectious, like laughter.  People are attracted to it and are more apt to pay it forward. 

To sum up, let me just say this:  Be grateful for what you have, be grateful for what you don’t have, be grateful for what is coming your way, but most importantly, be ever so grateful for where you are in your life today.  If you can rise up to that space, you will literally shift the vibration of your life.  ***Check back Wednesday for techniques to help you exercise your gratitude muscle!

Deepali’s piece of wellness:  This week, start and end each day with at least 5 things that fuel you with gratitude!