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Gratitude was always something I wanted you to have in your life. I have always wanted you to understand how our world’s view can be different from others and be mindful of our responsibilities to help create more equity and inclusion. Above all, I wanted you to embrace the small things that can bring so much joy, peace, and comfort. 

In some ways, it has been harder to find gratitude in the past few years, with cancer seeping its way into our family and then with the pandemic affecting the whole world. It would be easy to concentrate on the losses and the sadness that it can all bring. Instead, we have found a long list every day of things to be grateful for. First and foremost is each other, our family, loved ones throughout the world. We are thankful every day to be together, still moving, still surviving. 

With our company, we are thankful to find ways to give back and create a positive impact. I am incredibly grateful to do this project alongside you and have watched in awe as you have grown into your role, bringing new people into our little community every day. 

Love, Mom.

When we decided to create a Gratitude Workshop, I was so excited to expand my practice of giving thanks. But throughout learning more about gratitude, I discovered that it encompasses much more of our lives than I had thought, mainly three distinct areas.

Accomplishments

Practicing gratitude isn’t just about acknowledging all of the things you see as positives in your life. Instead, it is looking at those things and circumstances in your life that you were given rather than what you earned. It certainly helps to acknowledge the hard work you have done and the goals you have met in life. That type of reflection can help you feel pride and push you to achieve more in the future.

However, in your gratitude practice, the focus is on how your circumstances might have made your accomplishments possible. Take a trip down memory lane,  look at the school you went to, any teachers who inspired you, what being raised in your country has given you, or maybe chance encounters that have led you to discover your ideal career path.  

The Things You Have That Others Don’t

Comparing ourselves, our lives, and our path to others is never a healthy thing to do, but it can be even more damaging when combined with the concept of giving thanks. Gratitude practice isn’t necessarily about counting up the things that you have to be grateful for. Instead, it is about taking a minute to live in the moment and appreciating where you are right now without giving much consideration to what is happening in the outside world.

When you start to bring in thoughts of comparison, that will take you out of that space. Negative emotions and ideas begin to seep in, crowding and eventually overtaking a naturally empowering and joyful moment. You start to think of things that haven’t happened in the right way or quickly enough. Gratitude can quickly sour into resentment, jealousy, or feelings of loss. We have to fight to push those thoughts out of our mind; it takes time and practice, but rest assured, your body naturally wants to feel elevated positive emotions. 

Things You Are Still Trying to Find Appreciation For

While you can learn to have and practice more gratitude throughout your life, it can be challenging to force yourself into being grateful, and that’s okay. We sometimes encounter this when we bring up our insecurities or difficulties to others. For example, they might say you shouldn’t complain about school because you are lucky to be there. Sure, a valid point but one that doesn’t acknowledge your pain, anger, or boredom. It doesn’t recognize anything; these types of blanket statements only lead to further frustration, making it even harder to feel any sense of gratitude. We need to change that mindset, bring the awareness back onto ourselves instead of getting stuck in a comparative state.

We have seen this over the last few years. While you know that you should be grateful for so many things, some days present that block where you can’t see the good side. Try to get to the root of why you are not grateful at that precise moment in time. Is it coming from an expectation you have for yourself? Something you think society or someone else wants you to be? Or something you genuinely want to change?

Gratitude is a tricky thing, just like everything else in life. Thank you for continuing to be thoughtful and learning alongside us. There is still more to discover, and I look forward to the journey.

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