“Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has plenty;
not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.”
Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
As we approach yet another holiday season and make plans to spend time with family and friends gathered around a table laden with food, it is easy to forget the true underlying intention of Thanksgiving: gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful force that can create miracles in every area of your life if you choose to recognize it, including your love life. All you have to do is make a shift in your focus and open up your intention to recognizing the many blessings we all have in our life everyday. It has been said that, “whatever you focus on expands,” and indeed, the power of gratitude initiates a mutual flow between you and the universe that becomes a subtle exchange of energy which can effect great change in your life and the lives of those around you.
There is a tendency in our culture to always put the focus on flaws and imperfections in ourselves and our environment instead of on noticing what is going right on any given day. This Thanksgiving, I offer the suggestion that we start to shift our deeply creative power of intention away from all the things we don’t want, and instead focus on the gratitude we have for those things that support us on a daily basis in a thousand little ways. In other words, count your blessings. Oprah Winfrey writes in her regular monthly column “What I Know For Sure,” in the November 2012 issue of O Magazine: “I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your personal vibration. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.” Meaningful insight from someone who has achieved great successes in her life on both a personal and professional level.
Gratitude is like a muscle that gets stronger the more we practice it. The more we take a breath and get ourselves in a thankful frame of mind, the more we are able to keep calm and stay centered despite stressful situations, including those that can happen when we come together to celebrate holidays. When we practice thankfulness, we can look at a person’s intention in their behavior, instead of always wanting people to behave perfectly in every situation. So your uncle may tell corny jokes, his intention is to set people at ease and create a jovial atmosphere. Look at that instead of rolling your eyes and groaning and looking at your watch. Stay in the moment and enjoy the people around you for how they are now, not how you would like them to be. I need not remind you that none of us will be around forever, and instead of regretting something you said or did or didn’t do in the future, if you live in a space of gratitude now, you can know that you are taking in all the blessings that are around you in the present and capturing the memories forever.
If you find yourself with a quiet moment this holiday season, play a game with yourself. Think back to the beginning of your day and list every single thing you are grateful to have experienced during the day. Did you have hot water in your shower? Did you enjoy your favorite cup of coffee with breakfast? Did your clean clothes smell nice when you put them on? Note every single thing that you enjoyed. Savor the sensations of being alive, and as you sit down to celebrate a wonderful feast, take in every sensory detail as you notice the smells, sounds, and sights of the day. I guarantee, just this simple exercise will put you in a receptive, positive frame of mind. It also helps to mention to other people when you appreciate their efforts and kindness. Try adding the small phrase, “I appreciate it,” when you thank someone for a kindness or effort, and watch how people bloom. When you put your focus on appreciation and gratitude for the many blessings and gifts we all receive on a daily basis, your life will take on a new quality and you will notice small, positive changes happening everyday. Have a wonderful holiday, friends!