Practicing gratitude.

Sounds like the same tired inspiration everyone is saying, right? Being grateful and practicing gratitude make your life better. The thing is, what does that really mean? Do you sit for x amount of minutes each day and go through your life, ticking off mental check boxes on the good stuff?

Do you wake up in the morning and focus on some pleasantries to get into a good frame of mind? That’s what I’ve been doing.

As a yoga instructor, I kind of get it. It sometimes works.

But this afternoon, I really get it.

gratitude-thumbThis is my current office. It’s a back patio in The Mission, SF. More importantly, it’s on loan.

A friend of mine is away and I’m killing a few days before I go to training. He’s offered to let me stay here. It’s kind of beautiful. OK, it’s 70 degrees with a slight breeze while I sit under the palm blades drinking my coffee, eating berries and avocado, diligently working through some .css puzzles (that’s techy speak for fixing a website).

Life is hard, huh? But, honestly, I was pretty frustrated working and not having things go right. I took this photo as a little break from irritation, and something just clicked about how awesome this office is. Rather than quickly moving on to the next puzzle, I sat back. I intentionally smiled. For ten or fifteen seconds, I just sat in the bliss of this experience.

I’ve had a smile on my face the rest of the day…

Practicing gratitude doesn’t have to be a routine thing you set aside every morning. It shouldn’t be a list of things you say to yourself each day. It isn’t even not ever complaining… even when things are just crappy.

Gratitude can – and is – simply pausing for a moment and experiencing the good things that come your way.

Acceptance

Often during a class, or when we’re talking to someone about our life, we hear the phrase, “just accept where you are.” Just as often followed by “without judgement.” Yeah, this is good talk. It’s great to practice acceptance – being present – allowing for the things that are.

But, kick that up a notch and we’ve got gratitude. Heck yeah! Acceptance, now goes up to 11. Simply appreciating what is now IS the practice of gratitude.

They key is “now” – or rather in the moment. Appreciating – having gratitude for – something as it happens is all you need to do to “practice gratitude.” It starts with the positive stuff. We can move on the neutral stuff. Ultimately – when we’re just about to levitate and come one with the universe – we can begin to be grateful for those things we initially see as “bad.”

But, for now, just stop and love what’s going on. It only takes a few seconds.

Unbranded Stu

3 Comments

  1. Learning to recognize, appreciate and hold onto the special moments. That time I catch myself smiling at the beauty of a red-tailed hawk as it swoops across the highway and it makes me forget what I was crying about for just a split second, the spicy smell of the curry that reminded me I was indeed hungry and should feed my body and enjoy the taste, the chuckle I got, even though I was exhausted, from the stranger that joked that he’d run with me if he didn’t have to eat the doughnuts he was carrying. Sometimes the good stuff sneaks in when we aren’t expecting it to. It’s nice to let the feelings they bring linger and to feel gratitude for them. Still trying to feel gratitude for everything else in life that balances those moments out too. Maybe when I start levitating it will come.

    • Well, yeah, levitating does make all the other “stuff” easier. It sure isn’t easy to find the bliss in the things that balance the good things. Thanks for sharing and commenting. I’m glad you find the grace in the little things.

      -Stu

  2. “Lingering on the positive improves encoding of positive mental states into lasting neural traits…turning our passing experiences into lasting emotional memories.” Dr. Rick Hanson
    So that’s how a neuropsychologist says “focus on the positive”.

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