With Thanksgiving coming up fast & feeling the holiday spirit, it seemed timely to reflect on gratitude.
“[through] acknowledging abundance (aparigraha) we recognize the blessings in everything and gain insights into the purpose for our wordly existence,”
– translation of the Yoga Sutra by Nischala Joy Devi
Aparigraha is normally interpreted as “non-attachment” or “non-greed”, taking no more than we need and not being possessive over what we have. I love this interpretation because it brings the focus to recognition of the positive, instead of negating what may be there (non-attachment, non-greed, non-possessive). Generally speaking, I find it much more effective to focus on what you can become versus what you should not be — by focusing on gratitude for all that you have, by default you will be less focused on greed for what you do not have.
Gratitude fosters more love in your life and less stress. It is show to improve both your physical and psychological health. Gratitude increases optimism, spirituality, self-esteem, and energy. It makes us happier. A few guiding principles in cultivating gratitude:
Life moves quickly and gets busy. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day, to be constantly moving from one thing to the next, on the treadmill of life. Take a moment to p a u s e. To sit for a moment and reflect on all of the good in your life. This could be from as big of things as having a supportive family or close friend network to as small as the sun was shining. There is room for gratitude everywhere in your life. Seek it out and when you find it, acknowledge it. Reflect back on it.
See the good in all lessons
This can be a hard one. Life isn’t always peachy. Sometimes it straight up sucks – breakups, bad bosses, sickness, loss of a loved one – this list goes on. Life has its ups and its downs, but the opportunity for gratitude is always there. When everything is going wonderfully, gratitude is easy. Embrace it. Enjoy it. But what about when life isn’t so grand? Try to take a step back from the situation – imagine how this might play out in your bigger story. What will you learn from it? How will you grow through this? How might this change your path for the better? Even when it is hard to see the good, trust that there is a lesson there, that there is a reason behind everything.
Contentment in the present
It is easy (I find myself doing it frequently) to compare ourselves to others. To look at someone else’s life and wish that we had their job, money, family, closet, lifestyle, etc. etc. First, remember comparison is the thief of joy. Second, instead of looking at what you do not have, focus on what you do. Let go of your notions of what you wish you had, the “if only I had X I would be happy,” – be happy with what you have and where you are now in your life. This is not to say don’t strive to reach your goals, but rather to give thanks and find contentment where you are presently.
Radiate and reflect
Through expressing gratitude, opening up to it in our daily lives, we reflect this out into the universe. You are magnifying the joy and gratitude around you, sending it out into the universe – it will come back to you. The more you acknowledge it, the more it appears back to you. While gratitude should be given without expectation, it is my firm belief that by sharing this love, the love comes back to you. Karma and all 😉
A couple of quick ways to manifest gratitude in your life:
- Daily Gratitude Journal – this could be an actual journal or use the “Notes” app in your phone. Each morning write down one thing you are grateful for.
- Gratitude to Others – Write letter / email / text to those in your life, telling them why you are grateful for them.
- Self Gratitude – Tell yourself how grateful you are for you being the rad human that you are. This can be in your head, to your reflection in the mirror, out loud – whatever you feel most comfortable doing. Tell yourself one thing about you that you are grateful for.
I’ll leave you with one more quote:
“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life and you’ll find that you have more of it.”