Beauty + Brains
Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
Fall is finally here. The summer sun has ripened its fiery orange energy into the glowing crisp leaves of harvest. Maybe it’s because I’m a fall baby, but this season has always felt like home to me…a time to turn inwards, heal, and reap the benefits of the months of work that have come before it. I don’t know about you, but this past summer was particularly challenging for me – emotional, heated and a bit raw. Everything from global natural disasters and the political landscape in America, to my own work and what feels like a personal loss of community in my friend group. It’s enough to make a gal want to scream loudly into a pillow, and while that is always, in my personal opinion, a worthy dissemination of anger and pain, there are other ways to heal.
There’s nothing quite like hitting the reset button with a cleanse. It forces you to sit with yourself, to nurture your wild nature, to feel all the feels, to fully see all of patterns within your life that aren’t serving your highest good and to begin implementing new ones that will! For me, this reframing of bad habits that were keeping me from the clarity of visualization and mindfulness started with a simple shift – the softening of my heart and a daily practice of GRATITUDE.
I say practice, because it truly does take work and mindfulness. When I actually started listening to the voices of negativity in my head, I realized how pervasive they really were – lodging their weighted darkness into all of the nooks and crannies. But as with all things that are practiced daily, over time they become second nature, as your brain rewires to accommodate their presence. Eventually you will start to notice the beauty in the small things and moments that are surfacing around you, instead of comparing your perceived shortcomings against someone whose life you (think you) want on social media.
Science has proven that the benefits of gratitude are far reaching – from our emotional well-being and general happiness and optimism, to our heart health, immune system and blood pressure, to a decrease of stress and anxiety and our connectedness to something beyond our own small worlds. Negativity in our minds and hearts can take up a lot of space, and its darkness keeps us from clarity of vision as we are trying to cultivate and call in new-ness. It also sends a powerful message to the universe, one that screams “NO MATTER WHAT YOU SEND ME, I’M NEVER GOING TO BE HAPPY, SO DON’T EVEN TRY.” This is not to say that you shouldn’t honor or lean into the weight some days bring, but you can’t linger there for too long as over-time the negativity can be like a poison.
DAILY EXERCISES FOR CULTIVATING AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE:
CHECK THE VOICES IN YOUR HEAD:
When your friends come to you seeking advice and counsel, how do you meet them? What about your kiddos or your nieces and nephews? Do you tell them that their ideas are stupid, that they’re not worthy of great things, that they’ll never amount to anything, that they look ugly, or that they don’t deserve love because they themselves are unlovable. Probably not. You’re probably patient with them and kind and generous. You tell them to keep going, that you have their back, that they’re deserving of love and great things (and sometimes, when necessary you tell them they’re being an asshole, I’m sure). And yet somehow we don’t extend this same courtesy to ourselves. As you’re working on cultivating an attitude of gratitude, be sure to check the voices in your head. Be kind. Be gentle. Be grateful.
Keep a journal on your bedside table, and as you climb into bed at the end of the day, take a moment to reflect on the moments that passed. Find at least five things for which you are grateful. At first, it may seem like WORK to find five whole things… but eventually you may find the list flows out of you quickly and with ease!
THANK YOU NOTES:
Maybe it’s the Southern girl in me, or maybe it’s my love of getting an unexpected piece of mail that isn’t a bill, but I love thank you cards. The kind that are hand-written and delivered through the mail. Taking a small moment to send a simple “thank you,” and share your gratitude with the world can be a contagious energy! Give it a whirl!