The Power of Gratitude During the Holidays
Meister Eckhart, a 13th century mystic, wrote, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
The holiday season is always an appropriate time to take a few minutes,
pause, and reflect on the gifts you’ve been given, the people you love and cherish, and the opportunities you are afforded in life. It is my experience that giving gratitude with consciousness and pure intentions reduces stress and brings greater joy to your celebrations.
According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps the gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier. When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive, and less resistant.
I ask my yoga students to reflect on gratitude for several moments after class, acknowledging that we’ve been given many gifts in life. Mindful daily recognition of gratitude inspires clear intention, reduces self-doubt, and empowers you to greatness.
Your honest answers to the following questions will help you grow your attitude of gratitude during the holidays and thereafter:
Ask who in your life–past and present–has given you inspiration, motivation, love, support, and guidance.
These people can be family, friends, teachers, mentors, or work colleagues who bring you energy. Take a moment to give thanks that that they are in your life. Tell them they matter to you frequently,
Ask what skills, talents, personal characteristics, values, beliefs, and education opportunities you utilize every day are you grateful for.
The one stable gift that I am grateful for is my ability to teach. This is the gift I cannot live without because it leads to other fabulous learning and knowing experiences as well as different skill sets. Ask yourself what gift keeps on giving for you. What gifts will change your life mightily?
Ask where you have been in your life that has deeply affected you emotionally, intellectually, physically or spiritually.
In what ways have experiences outside your normal daily activities positively influenced your life? It is likely you have experienced some travel during your life. The places you visited, the people you met, perhaps from other cultures have broadened your life, influenced your view of the world and affected your sense of self within your community. Take time during the holidays and reflect on how these powerful experiences have shaped who you are today.
Ask what negative situation could be a positive in your life.
Why should you be grateful for the negative things that happen to you in life? Life isn’t perfect. Bad stuff happens. But inside every negative experience is a positive experience waiting to happen. Eliminating the negative self-talk you put yourself through develops stronger mental health habits. It allows you to become more accepting of everything that happens in life, Removing negativity creates the opportunity for growth and transformation.
Practicing daily gratitude not only produces more gratitude and more abundance, but it sets the tone for a joyful holiday season. Happy holidays, everyone!
Joan Frances Moran is a creative thought leader exploding with the potential of now. A lifelong learner with an unrelenting curiosity, Joan started teaching yoga at 60 and unlocked the key to cultivating daily happiness. Her signature headstand is not the only thing that leaves audiences in awe.