This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US. For many, Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to being with family and friends to give thanks and express gratitude for all of the blessings received during the year. When I sat down to plan my editorial calendar earlier this year, it was easy to decide to dedicate the November issue to gratitude. Little did I know, all those months ago, how important a conversation about gratitude would be at this time.
There’s a lot of sadness, hopelessness and frustration in the world right now. Not only in my beloved country but worldwide. The ripple effect of the events earlier this month and the events that follow are being felt worldwide. Your Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with stories being shared by Americans and non-Americans alike, expressing frustration, sadness, fear and even joy over the events in early November.
In times of turmoil and upheaval, I believe it’s our responsibility to change our internal conversation. This year, more than ever, I feel it’s important to cultivate a sense of gratitude which is why I’m grateful to my team for our collective decision to focus on gratitude in this issue. And grateful for each contributor who is joining the conversation this month.
As you will read in some of the articles this month, gratitude has an incredible power to shift our awareness. Even the tiniest spark of gratitude has the ability to raise our spirits and magnify our blessings. When you start to actively cultivate a sense of gratitude you can change your internal conversation and can experience massive shifts in the way you see everything in the world.
For the past eight years, I have consciously incorporated a gratitude practice into my daily routine, and it has had a profound impact on my life. Unlike meditation or yoga or mindfulness, it’s not difficult to start a gratitude habit.
Here’s how it works:
Each and every day, either first thing in the morning or each evening, ask yourself: “What am I grateful for?” and wait for your answers.
I personally use a gratitude app on my phone, and I spend a few minutes at the end of each evening writing in the gratitude app. I prefer evenings for this exercise as it gives me an opportunity to recap my entire day and allows me even more opportunities to recognize my blessings.
A typical entry has me focus my attention and awareness on different segments of my day and expressing gratitude for the simple act of waking up in a warm bed on a clear sunny day. I then shift my awareness to having enjoyed a good morning with my daughter. Being able to make pancakes for breakfast and getting us out of the house on time. My awareness causes me to be grateful that my lifestyle business gives me the time and freedom that many other moms don’t have: an opportunity to enjoy all the moments that will make lasting memories with my daughter. I continue on from there, breaking down my day into segments and looking for the goodness in each moment: a smile at the gas station, a door held as I enter the grocery store, an email received at just the right time from someone who says just the right thing to energize me to tackle a project, a touch from my partner when I enter the room at the end of the day. The list can go on and on.
The effects of practicing gratitude in the morning are just as profound as doing so in the evening. Starting your day with gratitude shifts how you move through your day. By placing your awareness on your blessings before you’ve even set foot out of bed, you’re able to move through the rest of your day with gratitude in your heart. The practice of gratitude in the morning shifts your awareness out of your head and into your heart. Actively practicing gratitude at any time of the day turns your awareness from darkness to light, from despair to hope, from loss to abundance.
Several years ago, I came across an article that challenged readers to take care of their environment for one year. To focus on a patch of land and work to care for and beautify it daily for one year. The article asked us to consider the impact of focused attention and care of nature for one year.
Imagine the shifts we could experience if we focused the same kind of attention and care on our inner environment. Imagine what would happen if we invited others to share in our gratitude practice.
I invite you to join me and start or end your day in gratitude.
Every day, for the next 30 days, I challenge you to ask yourself “What am I grateful for?” and examine your answers.
The exercise doesn’t guarantee that your day will unfold perfectly or resolve nicely at the end of the day. But it does ensure that with each and every practice, you will become increasingly aware of each moment as it unfurls its miracle and discover the magic of starting from a space of gratitude and how cultivating gratitude expands the moments of gratitude that you experience.