Gratitude seems to be one of the few transformational practices that unites people beyond beliefs and words—beyond nation, race, and tribe. It is really this simple: When you have a heart full of gratitude, your behavior is positive and kind, and when your heart is full of negative emotions, it is because you have lost your gratitude. ~ Max Strom
Over Turkish coffee served in a tiny, yet wonderfully ornate cup, my friend and I began talking about gratitude. She had had a rough
day week month! Her fiancée was having a hard time finding work and times had gotten pretty rough at home.
“It is hard to be grateful when so many things are going wrong,” she shared.
Not knowing what to say exactly, I sat listening and sensed that her frustration seemed to be bordering on depression.
Just then I remembered what my teacher often shared in yoga class. “Let’s try an experiment. Name one thing you are grateful for. For example, I’m grateful for this potent little cup of Turkish coffee.”
“Yah, me too,” she replied with a glimmer of a smile. “And I’m grateful for my health.”
“That’s a big one. Me too. I’m grateful for my health too.”
We both paused and then started laughing. Suddenly the mood and energy of our conversation had shifted just by asking the question:
What are you grateful for?
Of course this 5 minute conversation didn’t erase any of my friend’s problems. Her fiancée was still out of a job. But what did change, if even for a moment, was her perspective. And that matters. That IS the power.
Indeed, there is power in gratitude. Real power. From it flows all the other noble values: love, truth, kindness, contentment, discipline, mindfulness, patience, and compassion (just to name a few.)
Further, the five afflictions mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (2.3) can be healed through our gratitude practice. They are:
- the desire to cling to life
(Okay maybe not number five.)
Developing a gratitude practice
You don’t need to do all of these because just deciding to do one will get the “magic” going:
- Write a gratitude list and keep it in your wallet for on the go gratefuleness
- Visit a loved one (or a stranger) who is struggling with a health issue – again, perspective!
- While meditating or at the end of your yoga practice, try focusing on someone you are grateful for. Maybe it’s your sister, maybe it’s your grandma, or maybe it’s your dog. (Or maybe it’s YOU!)
- If someone slights you or hurts your feelings, instead of getting huffy, thank them, even if it’s just in your heart. Thank them for reminding you to return to your gratitude practice.
These are just a few ways to begin a gratitude practice. Unlock its magic power today!