The holidays are upon us. For many of us, we look forward to getting cozy, bundling up and watching It's a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time while drinking hot cocoa and relaxing by the fire. Ahhh, what a lovely scene. Something we look forward to once a year.
After the fall of covid and all of the pressures we’ve all been under, it’s hard to not think about what’s missing in our lives, what we wish we could be doing and taking stock of all the stressors we’ve endured the last few years.
I’ve kept a gratitude journal off and on for many years and just recently I decided to dust it off and get back into what I’m grateful for in my life.
There have been so many studies on being in gratitude and taking even 10 minutes a day to contemplate the things that we are grateful for can have lasting effects and help us focus on how lucky we really are and the beauty that is all around us. Not to mention it helps us stay in the present moment and help hush that monkey mind that we can all experience.
I know for me, when I actually get out a pen and paper and write (instead of type), there’s something much more powerful that happens. It literally changes the synapses in the brain when you do this.
I did some research on powerful speeches about gratitude. This list will be sure to help you lighten the load a bit and get you into the holiday spirit!
Top gratitude speeches of 2021 from the science-based online resource at positivepsychology.com.
One of things I’ve enjoyed this year is to get back into my yoga practice. I have practiced yoga for nearly 30 years now and I always love finding a new teacher who I can resonate with, grow and learn. Since covid hit, finding someone online was essential and my sister told me about Yoga With Adriene. Adriene Mishler is an American actress, yoga teacher and entrepreneur based in Austin, Texas and she has a free channel on YouTube with over 10M subscribers. I have been taking her classes for nearly two years now and I always feel more grounded and centered when I do. Here is a wonderful 30-minute practice she sent in her newsletter this week. Yoga With Adriene - Yoga For Gratitude I really like her approach. Whether you are a seasoned yogi or just getting started, she really speaks to everyone. She’s also a co-founder of a yoga video subscription service Find What Feels Good which I believe is roughly $10/month.
Here’s a list I compiled that has helped me stay in gratitude:
Dedicate a journal that is just for gratitude. Get out a pen and write 5-10 things you are grateful for each morning. The little things count too like being grateful for the sunshine.
Share what you grateful for with your family and friends. Every Thanksgiving we always go around the table and say one by one what we are grateful for from the year. It’s been a tradition in our family since the time I can remember when my grandparents were still with us. It’s a nice way to uplift yourself and those around you.
Think about the people in your life. Name 3 – 5 people you are grateful to have in your life and why? Communicate that with them either by sending a card, a text, and a voice message or ask them to meet up for a coffee/tea.
Think about yourself and write down 3 – 5 things you are grateful for about you. This can be achievements but also look a bit deeper like the sense of humor you have during difficult times.
Look at the small things. What’s one thing that you tend to take for granted that you are grateful for like clean drinking water for instance. There are many people who do not have this in their life.
Take a moment to do a little sun gazing and be grateful that the sun exists to give us light and well being.
When you go to the beach, have gratitude for the waves moving in and out and the relaxing sound these nature elements bring to us. When you go for a hike in the woods, take a moment to relish in the beauty of the trees and thank them for releasing oxygen in the atmosphere and helping you breath.
Take a moment to think about a local non-profit you can support and either donate to give thanks for the greater whole that the organization brings to the community or volunteer to contribute. While you are there, thank the people who run it for the incredible job they are doing in service to your community. Don’t forget we are all connected and all acts of service become a ripple effect to remind ourselves and others how connected we really are.
Lastly, here is a short clip of Oprah talking about her gratitude journal. “If you want to change your state of being, start to be grateful,” says Oprah: Oprah Winfrey and her gratitude journal
Embracing gratitude by not only thinking about it but also writing it down and expressing it has been known to have a significant and positive impact on all areas of life. Research shows that people who practice gratitude can see significant improvements in their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Empower yourself to make a choice to look at your life this way and it will also lower stress levels, increase energy, improve sleep and release endorphins.
I think everyone can agree that when we see these changes (even small incremental ones) within ourselves, it also improves the quality of our relationships, both personal and professional. Imagine the ripple effect that it will have for you and those around you to practice gratitude this holiday season.
I bet it will bring you a little more peace, joy and cheer.
Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Lisa Schneiderman is a UO member who helps people raise awareness for causes and positive messages that uplift humanity to a higher state of being.