Updated: Sep 23
What does gratitude mean for you?
I have to admit that up until now I was struggling with WHAT to write.
So… I took time away from my computer to reflect on what gratitude means for me.
And the answer that bubbled up, “It is my super power.” Transformation truly is an inside job, and for me gratitude is becoming a part of my mindset and who I am. So rather than talk about gratitude, I’ve decided to share what my practice and experience looks like.
Please know that I am a work in progress, but I sense that I am forging new neural pathways in my brain. Like any practice, the more we commit the more skillful we become.
I like to journal, so after I pour a cup of really good java (which I am always grateful for ) I write. I consistently start with gratitude for a brand-new day of life, and reverence for the power that is breathing me. A power that has guided my life up until now. I KNOW I am not in this alone. I am a cancer thrivor and my life is something I seldom take for granted. I have lost friends who were diagnosed after me; and this reminds me, that none of us know when or how our life will end.
Then I begin to write about everything that is going well for me, in the areas of my life that count.
I begin with my vision for health and well-being and my gratitude notes look something like this: I am so happy and grateful that I am active; that I feel vibrantly alive and so well. I affirm that I have a strong immune system, and regardless of my age, my body moves with ease and grace. I am grateful for the activities that support my body, mind and spirit. I have a beautiful yoga and meditation practice that I take time for most mornings. I am grateful that I can get on my bike and enjoy the amazing playground outside my door. I feel so connected to nature and I am grateful and for the solitude and expansiveness I am experiencing in rural Saskatchewan. I am grateful that I have the means to purchase and the know how to prepare foods that support my health. As a social worker, many of my clients were never taught how to budget or prepare foods from scratch.
I am grateful for the loving and supportive relationships I experience in my life. I have three grown sons who are forging lives they love. Tonight as I was getting ready to write this blog (we were in a family chat ), I decided to express my gratitude to them. I told them how much I’ve appreciated being their mother and watching them grow up. My youngest responded with “ I'm just thankful I made the right choice mom. There were lots of options at the time, but you were the mom for me!” I am grateful that we can enjoy this light banter and that the communication channel is open to talk about tough stuff too.
I am grateful for the friendships I have cultivated over the years and how they have supported me. Some for only a season, some for a reason, and others for a lifetime. All have added to the tapestry I call my life, and have brought valuable life lessons. I am grateful for the warmth, kindness and generosity I am experiencing in my new home and rural community. I am grateful for technology and the ability to connect with friends across many miles. In the last few weeks, I’ve conversed with friends in Nicaragua, New York, Mexico and New Brunswick; friendships that were forged in Mexico last winter.
I am grateful for the abundance that supports me to live into my vision of time and money freedom. I love the three-season landing pad that I have created in rural Saskatchewan, and my ability to travel out of country during our sometimes, harsh Canadian winters.
I am profoundly grateful for the work that I get to share in the world. It fuels my sense of passion and purpose. I am grateful for the “inspired ideas” that I put onto paper that became my book “What If You Could?” I am grateful for the awards that it is winning which supports the impact I want to make with it; and I am excited that new ideas are inspiring me to write the sequel!
I am grateful for all that I’ve learned over the years, and for the teachers and mentors that have shown up at the right and perfect time. I am profoundly grateful for the understandings and inner resources that have given me the courage to move forward in the face of heartache and adversity.
I most am proud of how I have used my experiences to learn and grow and become the woman I am today.
This is truly how I am living and feel most days... AND NO, I am not perfect. But I have tools and mentors and an understanding of what I need to do to get back into harmony with my true SELF and Life. Last week I knew I owed my son Mitchell an apology so I reached out with an “I’m sorry, I do not want the interaction we had the other day to be our last.” I'm grateful for our follow up conversation and that all was forgiven. I am learning it is much easier to put out a fire when it is small.
Occasionally “thought storms “do pass through my mind, but now I seldom go all the way down the rabbit hole. I know that the way to pull myself out is to reconnect to my vision and place my attention on what I’d love to experience verses getting lost in the "what if's". I am learning that just like the weather, these funks will pass. There have been days when the best I could do was write: "Thank you that this day is over and tomorrow I get to push reset!! ”
As I look over this day, I am grateful for the abundance I experienced. Buchanan friends responded to my facebook post and delivered garden fresh potatoes to my door, with a bonus of more carrots and beets. I was invited to ride-along with a friend in his grain truck as the combine gathered the canola seed. We then transported the load to the grain bins. That was on my rural bucket list! Being in the thick of the harvest today, was fun and felt exhilerating! This evening as I cycled south on highway 247, I witnessed hundreds of geese in a farm field, lift off into the setting sun. Truly a sight to behold.
Robert Emmons- a leading expert on the science of gratitude shares on this subject: “Gratitude is derived from the Latin root, gratia, meaning grace, graciousness or gratefulness. All these derivatives have to do with kindness, generousness, the beauty of giving and receiving, and often as a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation for life. And this is what I am experincing more and more of.
Science and research also affirm the super power of gratitude. Studies show that:
*Gratitude improves physical health, boosts our immune system, and reduces chronic pain. Participants in studies who expressed more gratitude reported less inflammation, fatigue and anxiety.
It’s not a surprise, that people who express gratitude for their health are also more likely to take care of it. When we exercise and eat well, we feel and sleep better. The next time you have trouble sleeping, try counting your blessings before you go to bed instead of sheep.
Gratitude fosters optimism and strengthens our immune system. When our levels of optimism rise, studies show we have more disease-fighting cells in our body.
*Gratitude reduces stress, anxiety, depression and enhances our overall sense of emotional wellbeing. When we feel grateful and focus on our good, our brains release a surge of those feel-good brain chemicals and hormones like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. These surges enhance mood and ease anxiety.
*Gratitude strengthens our relationships and our self-esteem. When we cultivate a thankful mindset, we begin to believe that were worthy of happiness, love and joy. We show up as our best version of ourselves and invite this in others. We celebrate our successes and support others.
*Gratitude helps us to live mindfully and has positive lasting effects on our brain. Gratitude brings us back to the present moment, which is ALWAYS OUR POINT OF POWER. This strenthens the neural pathways in our frontal cortex, and our capacity to respond rather than react to life.
It is within each of us to become more aware of what thoughts we think, what words we speak and what choices will support us to live into the best version of ourselves. We can’t always control the external situations or other people, but we can CHOOSE how we will think about them.
For me gratitude truly is a super power that can bring us into harmony with the creative energies of the universe.
As Wallace Wattles affirm in his quote: “The grateful mind that is constantly fixated upon the best, tends to become the best. It takes the form or character from the best, and will receive the best.”
So what does gratitude mean for you? I'd love to hear about your practice. If you don't have one, it's never to late to begin.
Blessings for a Happy Thanksgiving,