Working for Karla has always been an experience that had me exploring different sides of myself or the world. Whether it was researching for a new quiz, article or workshop or just learning a new skill so that I could use it in my work, Karla is the master of pushing you out of your comfort zone and getting you to see another side of yourself.
So when I was invited to the Circle of Strength events, I had that wonderful sense of anticipation that paired excitement with terror. And this day definitely had me looking at how I see myself and the world in a new way. One of the things that it had me exploring for the first time in depth was the concept of gratitude and how I experience gratefulness and share it with those around me. The Gratitude Workshop goes into great depth on this topic, but here are some things that I often think about:
Consider the Constants
When I first started thinking about the things that I was grateful for, the things that came to mind were the big moments that I felt led me to the life that I had, the gestures from friends and family or the things that I had been able to do in my life. I am grateful to have seen over a dozen different countries, for example.
Through the Circle of Strength Workshop and in researching gratitude since, I have learned that it is important to think of the things that we assume to be “give ins” and constants as well. I am grateful I have clean air to breathe and drinking water. I am thankful I am able to go and get whatever I want from the grocery store. I am grateful I am able to go for a walk and move my body.
Lesson six of our Gratitude Workshop includes a video by Jay Shetty that talks about being specific in your gratitude. It is not enough to acknowledge that you are grateful for something like the trees outside your window. You need to dig deeper and discover why you are grateful. For me, the trees make me feel at peace even in a big city. I am excited to see them change throughout the year and love going on walks through them.
Getting specific with the basics makes me appreciate them on a whole new level and keeps those thoughts present and active throughout my day.
The Pieces of You
We are all combinations of our heritage, or lineage, our experiences and each of the circumstances we have been in throughout our lives. These things define our personality, like and dislikes and how we react to the world in front of us.
Some of the pieces of who we are come from our own decisions and the life that we have chosen to live. Some come from active self-improvement or from growing from mistakes. But some of them are entirely outside of our control and are things that we had scripted into our DNA from birth.
For me, the shape of my body comes from my mother’s side, along with my work ethic and my ability to deal well in high pressure and crisis situations. From my dad, I got my coloring, my hair, eyes and skin and my social nature and sense of adventure.
I see pieces of myself that came from being Canadian, Dutch and being raised in a small town. Being my parents’ child, my grandparents’ grandchild and my brother’s sister helped to shape me. I didn’t choose to be any of those things but am grateful every day for them all.
In being grateful for the pieces of myself, I have found that I am better able to love myself and see my own good qualities. I am better able to deal with the sides of myself I see as negatives, as they become a part of a bigger picture. The last part of the Gratitude Workshop talks about how a gratitude practice can help strengthen our relationships with others. But it can also help strengthen our relationship with ourselves.
As someone living with an anxiety monster in my head, I am very prone to comparing myself to others (and frequently coming up short). So when I started my gratitude practice, it was often derailed by focusing on comparison rather than simply concentrating on my relationship with the things I have been given in my life.
One of the core concepts the Gratitude Workshop tries to teach is that a gratitude practice is meant to be undertaken without judgement. It is not about what you have compared to others or whether or not you “deserve” the things that you have been given. It is simply an acknowledgement and a chance to give thanks.
If you’re tempted to compare, remember that judging your life or the things that you have against someone else is never a fair comparison. You are seeing all sides of yourself and will only get a piece of the picture of what someone else’s life looks like. We see all of our flaws as well as our attributes, for example. This is why it is so important to stay in the present during your practice.
Even two years after the event, I am still grateful for being invited to the Circle of Strength Event. It opened the door to many new things for me on my own road to self discovery. Check out my recap of the event here and watch the workshops for yourself. You are sure to get something great out of them.