Gratitude and Appreciation: Include Them in Holiday Planning!
At this time of the year we begin to turn our attention to the upcoming holidays and all that they mean. Of course there is the busyness, shopping and increased social commitments. But there is also a deeper current that flows through this time of year. It seems that many of us feel that current and yearn to connect with it as it seems to promise a more fulfilling state of being than those that generally haunt our minds.
With the first holiday of this season, Thanksgiving, our thoughts turn to menu planning, travel and seating arrangements, invitations and how to get it all done in the midst of an already busy life! This year we also have the added complication of all the questions around the pandemic and safety. Each person needs to make their choices based on their own issues re: risk management but that also caries complications in terms of feelings and relationships.
The deeper feelings of gratitude and appreciation symbolized by this day get a passing nod in media hype, a brief grace said at the dinner table or in a lament about not having the time to pay attention to those aspects of life! There are many reasons for this but perhaps the key issue is a lack of understanding regarding the real influence of these feelings and so they are relegated to the airy-fairy file.
Gratitude and Appreciation Have Real Physiological Effects
Gratitude and appreciation are emotions, feeling states that have been studied at length and have been shown to profoundly impact our physical, spiritual and emotional health. When you experience them your heart rhythms change, your nervous system becomes more coherent and your whole physiology behaves differently—all in the direction of health and more efficient functioning. Why would you not want to engage in an activity that is so simple, pleasant and easy and promises to provide such benefit? There are no gym fees, heavy sweating or big chunks of time taken out of your schedule. It merely requires a desire to take charge of your own mind, learn how it functions and point it in the direction you wish instead of allowing it to run amok in its conditioned default patterns. The feelings of gratitude and appreciation set up a vibration within you that are worth the price of admission to make them the standard instead of a sometime event!
Simple Strategies to Increase Gratitude and Appreciation
Asking the right questions...
What do I have to be grateful for?
What in my life do I really appreciate?
Remember to think broadly. We live life moment by moment. Big awards, recognition, and fame are not daily fare. To some they never come. They may be the lucky ones as they may be more in touch with the deeper rhythms of life. These rhythms are where there is more juice, feeling and connection to the real stuff of being human. That it not to say that material success is wrong or to be turned away from, only that often too much attention in that direction can result in a disconnect within a person that leaves them empty, longing and entrenched in pretense rather than in the authenticity that leads to a sense of inner fulfillment.
So think about the moment the warmth of the sun, the crispness of the air, the beauty of the sky. Make it a game to see how many instances of beauty you can find in a day. Where can you find the touch of peace? What do you see that warms your heart? How can you experience peace and heart expansion from the inside out rather than waiting for the outer world to present them?
Before you go to sleep tonight identify three things that made you happy, or that you appreciated. Remember to count yourself —things you value about YOU!
Use your memory to call up images of times when you felt grateful…play those over and over instead of the wouldas, couldas, shouldas that tend to rumble around in our minds!
Once you identify something take time to let the feeling soak deep into your body especially in the heart area.
Make placing your attention on gratitude a habit and you may begin to notice that a subtle inner peace is growing and has brought you “home for the holidays”!