I have been working through the darkness of winter by trying to focus on gratitude. I admit I don't like the cold, the gray days are hard for me, and my bright light doesn't seem to be enough to start me off on the right foot every day. But every night before I go to sleep, I think of things I'm grateful for. Just for a short time. This deliberate exercise isn't Pollyanna-ish positive thinking, it's not cheesy or false. It is simply recognizing that I have a lot, even on days when I feel a lack.
Let's face it, if you're reading this blog, you likely have a roof over your head. That is definitely something to be grateful for, because there are clearly people for whom that isn't the case. The same is true for having enough food to eat, warm clothing and boots to keep your feet dry. Simple stuff, but these items alone can cue me into the abundance I have in my life. My heart starts to feel uplifted because I am grateful.
The people in our lives can obviously be a mixed bag. We can feel so thankful for friends and family, but loneliness affects a lot of people. We may feel sadness or loss thinking about relationships, but sometimes even the smallest encounter can be a reason to be thankful. I like to focus on a seemingly meaningless interaction, like the smile I received from someone in the hallway at work, or the coffee barista who is always so cheerful. I'm grateful for positive communication in any form, and enough small moments like these can turn a day around.
Some days it's harder to find things to list, but I can always come up with something. Even the most mundane, like hearing a song I like on the radio. Every time I turn my attitude toward gratitude (ooh, a rhyme!), I feel lighter. More compassionate towards myself and others. I may try moving this practice to the morning, and see if I can open my day with these feelings, as I've felt a need for a real boost the last few weeks! A few things on my list today: I'm grateful for time this morning to do yoga and write this blog entry before work. I'm grateful for my cats who joined me for both activities, and I'm grateful that school has started again! What are you grateful for today?