The other morning I was at the gym reading an old issue of Natural Health magazine. I came across an article called "Count your blessings," which started with: "how regularly do you really see and celebrate the little gifts you're receiving - a glass of water, a huge, a ride, a smile - and count them as blessings?" (Natural Health, November 2010, p 15). The article talked about cultivating the art of gratitude, and the benefits of it: "Gratitude works because it recruits other positive emotions - like joy, contentment and hope - that have direct physical benefits" (16).
I loved this article because it reminded me how important it is to stop, pause, and reflect your blessings throughout the day. I was at my gym on a machine facing the gorgerous waterfront view and thinking how lucky I was to afford a gym membership that I love, to live in a beautiful place, and to be of good health. That same week, I had been a bit bogged down with some of my challenges, and realized how easy it is to get wrapped up in the negative if you aren't actively reminding yourself about the positive.
The article had some energizing suggestions on how you can practice gratitude. Two that I particularly liked:
1) You can keep a gratitude journal. This is where each evening, your replay your day and write down the things you are grateful for. I like the idea of taking time before you go to bed to think about all you are grateful for, and ending on such a positive note. I hope to start this practice by starting small, and perhaps writing down just one thing each evening, such as a friendship, a great run, the food I ate for dinner, my job, something I learned, or whatever else comes to mind.
2) Celebrate Thanksgiving every day. The author of this article talks about how before dinner, his family does a "what I'm grateful for" activity daily. He said it has a positive impact on the rest of the meal and his family in general - I like it!
To close, I wanted to revisit a favorite quote of mine that reminds me of the larger purpose of gratitude:
“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence."
-Og Mandino (Source)