Practicing Gratitude by Frances Malone, ARNP, PhD
Gratitude can be a single moment in time; something we share with family at a gathering or stumble into during moments when we notice the state of grace in our lives. It can also become a way of appreciating life through a practice of gratitude. In a such a practice, we learn to slowly, intentionally cultivate a perspective or attunement to gratitude which, in time becomes a way of life, a way of seeing the world, a way of engaging with all of the experiences of our lives, as well as the people and events in it.
Taking a moment to feel gratitude unlocks a place in our hearts. It unlocks a place in our awareness. There is beauty and delight and something to indeed be thankful for. This may begin as something you are only able to do once a year during the time of harvest and celebration, for example, on Thanksgiving. However, the incorporation of a practice of gratitude can be an important health tool. A daily practice supports the reduction of anxiety and depression, decreases blood pressure, improves heart health, and offsets the effects of stress while improving sleep (https://www.uclahealth.org/news/health-benefits-gratitude).
As we are able to dip into feeling gratitude for the singular, lovely aspects of our lives, then over time, even for events that were hard to negotiate, we come to a state of being that is lighter. We are practicing gratitude each moment of our day with each person we encounter and each new event, challenge, engagement, interaction becomes an opportunity for practicing the awareness of gratitude.
Today I am grateful my colleague remarks that something was not set up appropriately before her event. I am grateful that she brings this to my attention. Without that moment of hard to hear honesty, we wouldn’t have been able to identify the systemic issue at hand. After a moment of internally bumping around, I gracefully realize and take responsibility for my part in the issue. The fact that I am able to show up with love for her and respect for the issue that she is having helps us navigate to an outcome that will work for us not just in this instance, but also for creating a larger system that works for everyone else in our organization.
This example demonstrates not just how gratitude can make road blocks navigable with greater ease, but how it has ripple effects. The ripples of gratitude are strong and show up positively not just in our internal diaglogues but also in our interactions and relationships with others.
I did not get to this place with ease. It took a lot of practice, and some days are harder work than others... Practicing respect for another human and practicing holding space for another person’s views that are different from mine, honoring their needs that do not seem even the slightest bit important, practicing the opportunity to get better at engaging with others and as I look to my life. I am now able to see how tremendously making this shift has changed my life, my world and my experience, taking it to a higher vibration.
But it was slow. Moment by moment when I remembered, I tried to step back and see, what could I be grateful in this scenario?
Am I just grateful for the learning process?
Am I grateful for another perspective, even though I didn’t meet it with grace
and wasn’t able to finesse the situation?
Am I grateful that it went to a boiling point it exploded, and we were able to look at each other and say “Wow. Let’s try to do that better next time”?
Gratitude can be a momentary thing. It can be something that you do occasionally or once per day. However, if you embrace it and make it into a practice, it may change the way you live and change other people’s experience of living with you in profound gratitude.
TIPS for creating a gratitude mindset:
- Take a moment in the morning or just before bed to list a few of the things/ events/people you are grateful for that day.
- When you have the opportunity to say thank you, stop for a moment and feel thankful.
- Send a note to an individual you know, making them aware of what you appreciate about them. Keep it simple, it can be a text/email or sticky note.
Frances Malone is a local nurse practitioner and owner of DogFish Moon Sanctuary, a Wellness Center in Poulsbo where she practices her unique brand of coaching; empowering people in creating their best life. Her Intuitive Wellness Coaching is individualized and seeks to address the main places where that individual feels stuck. They may be in pain that is primarily emotional, physical, environmental, or they are experiencing the mental health distress of anxiety and depression and are looking for 1:1 support with effective strategies to eliminate costly behaviors (procrastination, self-sabotage, overthinking, playing small) and move into a place of clarity, motivation and well-being.
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