Although we don't need to wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy the benefits to our well-being that accompany gratitude, the holidays are a good time to check in to see how our gratitude practice is flowing.
Gratitude practice benefits include health and well-being perks like reducing anxiety, decreasing depression and improving sleep, and also by allowing us to stay present. By letting go of regrets from the past and expectations for the future, we surrender to the present moment and begin to see the beauty in all experiences. With a little practice, this enables us to find immense thankfulness for everything that we experience.
We Already Have What We Need
During the holidays, many people make the excuse that "when it's over," their inner peace will be restored.
Inner peace and happiness do not lie in the experiences we chase or the people we lean on, however. We can't always count on people or the will of the universe to treat us the way we wish to be treated.
It's very important that we nurture ourselves and try to manifest our own happiness rather than looking for it externally in other people, material items or fleeting stimuli.
What many people need to realize is that they already have everything they need to manifest their own happiness regardless of their circumstances. This is sometimes difficult in a culture that values immediate gratification and materialism, but the type of peacefulness and happiness that comes from within is significantly more fulfilling and sustainable than happiness obtained externally.
The first step to cultivating true inner peace and happiness is to practice gratitude for every situation - good or bad - at every opportunity.
Let It All Go
We don't have to rely on our past to determine our actions in the future. Each day, we can make a choice to disregard disadvantageous habits like negativity and instead live our lives positively and with thankfulness. The choice is always ours.
We, as humans, are not victims to our emotional lives but rather powerful beings of choice. When we decide it's time to let go of "what should be" or "what could have been", we realize our own power by reveling in the simple joys of life that we only recognize when staying in the present.
For me, it's things like light dancing through leaves or my favorite song coming on the radio during a traffic jam. Finding thankfulness for all of life's simple pleasures regardless of my circumstance is what brings me the most joy and makes me feel truly alive.
10 Questions To Bring More Awareness To Your Gratitude Practice
- What relationships am I thankful for?
- What am I grateful for that I learned about myself the past year?
- What activities am I grateful for?
- What insights have I gained that I'm grateful for?
- What have others done that has benefitted my life - even if these people are strangers?
- Is there anything I'm taking for granted that I'm grateful for?
- What challenges have I been faced with? What did I learn and how can I be thankful for them?
- What about my environment can I be thankful for?
- What opportunities or privileges do I have that I'm thankful for?
- How can I say thank you to others, to myself, to Mother Earth and to the universe more often?