In our best moments, we sail through life with ease and confidence. We’re setting and meeting goals, enjoying vibrant health, and relationships with friends, family and romantic partners are conflict-free and loving. Everything feels aligned with our highest purpose; the Universe has our back.
Then there are the times when it feels the exact opposite. No matter how badass we are, there are moments in life when it all feels like an endurance test. In these most challenging moments, it’s easy to feel like the people in our lives—co-workers, family, friends, the barista—our bodies or even the whole Universe is conspiring against us. It’s not a powerful place to be. While it’s difficult for us to take total responsibility for our circumstances, there is one thing that can release us from feeling like victims: gratitude. The key to moving on from anger, depression, heartache and frustration is to shift our focus to all that we have to be grateful for. This works in the moment when we’re struggling to get through the day—or even the next hour—but also as an ongoing practice to cause a sustainable shift in the level of power and sovereignty we feel on an ongoing basis. With Thanksgiving approaching, November is the perfect time to schedule in a month-long journey into empowerment through gratitude.
30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE
What you need:
1. A Box: This can be a shoe box, a cookie tin or a large mason jar. You might even use your creativity to craft a special container to honor your commitment to this practice.
2. 30 Small Scraps of Paper: This can literally be pieces of paper recycled from trash or something gorgeous and intentional—whatever makes you feel like you are honoring your intention to reframe your attitude.
3. A Writing Utensil: Pen, pencil, crayons, whatever your heart desires.
4. A Special Location: Set aside a spot at the table, a place on your dresser, a corner of your room, even an area of your bathroom. This is where you will go each day to perform this 30-day ritual. Make it a place that feels good and that will remain undisturbed by the folks with whom you share your home—pets, kids, spouse, roommates.
What you do:
Each day at the same time, go to your special location and sit for three minutes in silence. Bring your awareness to your breath. Slow it down. Increase the pause at the end of an exhalation before drawing your next breath. Feel the potentiality in that space. When your mind is quiet, write down one thing you are grateful for, following the guidelines below. Fold up the paper and deposit in your box.
YOURSELF: For the first ten days, focus on something you are grateful for about yourself. It can be the same thing for ten days, or something different each day. Make it real. Make it your truth. Here are some examples:
I am grateful for my ability to laugh in the face of adversity.
I am grateful for my incredible mane of thick hair.
I am grateful I beat cancer.
I am grateful I can get out of bed in the morning.
This is your time to celebrate you. Whether you are grateful for something gifted to you by the Universe or something you’ve cultivated on your own, spend this time acknowledging what you love about yourself.
OTHERS: For the second ten days, turn your focus to the other people in your life. Look around you and notice how supported you are. For some of these, it’s glaringly obvious. For others, we need to look a little harder. Here are some examples:
I am grateful for the job that pays my bills and feeds my family.
I am grateful for my happy and healthy children.
I am grateful for the barista who brings a cheerful smile to my mornings.
I am grateful for the way my partner supports my dreams and vision.
Most of our relationships are complex and challenging. We might want to strangle our spouse for the way he leaves his dirty socks on the bedroom floor, but throw our arms around him when he relieves us of trash duty every night. Take this opportunity to find the parts and pieces we are grateful for.
SERVICE: For the final ten days of this practice, turn your attention to the ways you are able to show up in the world in service to others. There is nothing more empowering than idea that we are able to make a contribution to the wellbeing of others, to feel we have a purpose, that our life in service to something greater than ourselves. Use this time to heighten your awareness of how that happens for you. Here are some examples:
I am grateful that I can get up every day and feed my family a healthy breakfast.
I am grateful that I improve the quality of life for others by doing my job.
I am grateful that I have the opportunity to make contributions to my favorite causes.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be a force of positivity in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Cultivate an attitude of gratitude for your ability to find and choose to embody this principle.
Make a cup of tea, do your 3-minute breathing practice, settle in and get comfortable. Open your gratitude box and one-by-one, in no particular order, unfold and read each note. Take your time. Consider the value of each item for which you are grateful. Celebrate the goodness in your life and see it as a counterbalance to the challenges. Make a commitment to continuing to cultivate and sustain gratitude. Finally, and of course, find gratitude for your commitment to do so—for yourself, for the people in your life, and in service of others.