Practicing Gratitude

A week ago I was on my way to take a yoga class when I ran into really bad traffic. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge deal but this was the yoga class that I was supposed to start teaching the following week and I wanted to make sure I was there and on time to make a good impression on my new students. I left my house in what should have been plenty of time but now I was moving at about 5 mph. I turned on my GPS to find out how much of a delay I could expect and it looked like instead of being 15 minutes early I was going to be 15 minutes late. There was a major accident up ahead.

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My palms started sweating, my heart was racing, I started fidgeting to rid myself of nervous energy. My son was screaming in the back seat. Suddenly a thought crossed my mind. At least I wasn’t IN the accident. At least I was safe, my car was fine and in the grand scheme of things being a little late to a yoga class was NO BIG DEAL. With that one positive thought, a flood gate of others came streaming in. It was a beautiful fall day. Bright blue sky and the leaves were changing red and yellow. My sweet son, although screaming in the back, was healthy and safe. And with that shift in perspective, my heart stopped racing, I felt happier.

Thats when I realized, gratitude is the secret to happiness. If I told you there was something that you could do for free that would increase your happiness, improve your immunity, allowing you to sleep better and increase the likelihood that you would exercise would you do it? Turns out that studies have shown practicing gratitude does all of the above.

Its about forming the habit of looking for things to be grateful for. And there is so much that we take for granted each day to be grateful for. Just the fact that you’re breathing and able to read this is a reason to be grateful. Appreciating the small things allows you to be happier in each moment and to see the good in the moments that are difficult. And I know that can sound hackneyed and annoying but suspend your disbelief and try it! I promise it will make a difference.

Instead of fretting over the layers of fat on your body can you be grateful for all that it does for you? Maybe that gratitude will even inspire healthier habits in honoring your body. Instead of bemoaning the fact that your alarm didn’t go off and you are going to be late can you appreciate the fact that you got a few more minutes of sleep. Rather than resenting your husband for putting the dishes in the dishwasher the “wrong way” can you thank him for taking initiative and cleaning them.

Our minds are hard wired to find the bad in any given situation. We want to protect ourselves from harm so we seek out potential harmful causes. What if instead of focusing on the negative we looked for the positive. How different would your perspective be and how different would that make your life? Despite that old saying “opposites attract” positivity tends to attract more positivity. So give it a try!

What are you grateful for?

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