Finding gratitude this year may be harder than normal. The winter of 2020-2021 may be among the most difficult seasons for many of us as we wait for the restrictions of the pandemic to loosen so we can see our family members again, connect freely with our friends, and resume activities that once felt normal. As the holidays arrive, we may acutely feel the weight of these challenges. Natural feelings of gratefulness and the appreciation that Thanksgiving invites us to foster, may feel blocked or dampened.
Yet, we need to practice our gratitude more than ever. It is a gracious acknowledgement of all that supports us and sustains our everyday lives. It is an appreciative nod to our blessings, both large and small – a moment of sunshine, our loving family, food on the table. Leaving the gifts of our lives unacknowledged is a lost opportunity for joy and connection.
When Gratitude Grows, Joy Follows
Joy is not what makes us grateful, but gratitude is what makes us joyful. So how can we become more present and grateful, despite the difficulties we face right now?
Start by asking yourself: Do I need to slow down, take more deep breaths, step into nature, notice my child playing, my dog snoring, the birds singing? Gratitude is a practice, something that when done regularly, can rewire our brain. Like watering seeds in our garden, when we are attentive to what is good in our lives, positivity and joy can flourish.
Incorporate Gratefulness in Your Day
Here are a few ways to get started:
- Begin the day with a thought or prayer of gratitude. This might include appreciation for your warm bed, another day, a soft dog, a chance to do things better.
- Throughout the day stop and notice the mug of warm tea in your hands, the cat purring on your lap, the sunshine on your face. Set a timer as a reminder to practice gratitude throughout the day.
- Keep a journal of three good things that you record at the end of every day. Let those things soak into your heart and your body as you drift off to sleep.
- Share gratitude outwardly by writing a “gratitude letter” to someone who you have not previously thanked.
- Experiment with gratitude meditations that resonate with you, like this from UC San Diego School of Medicine Center for Mindfulness.
Water the Seeds of Compassion with Gratitude
Even though we may be physically separated from our loved ones this holiday season, we can water the seeds of care, compassion, and connection through our acts of gratitude. We can look at this time as an opportunity to attend to what is most important in our lives, and to count our blessings, both large and small.
For additional resources on gratitude and mindfulness, visit Larimer County Extension’s Health and Wellbeing web page. To access CSU Extension’s Living Mindfully Online Program, visit CSU Online.
Thanks for sharing this important information.