by Bridget Fujioka
With the holidays fast approaching, one thing we will often hear from those we encounter is how busy they are. From visits with family, friends, and coworkers, to preparing meals, decorating – and let us not forget shopping – we can find a million ways to stay busy and become disconnected. Besides mashed potatoes (roasted garlic smashed potatoes from the Cinnamon Snail, to be exact), the first image that comes to mind when I think of Thanksgiving is traffic, the ultimate manifestation of busyness.
Of course being busy is not exclusive to the season, and I am more often than not a participating party in the litany of to-dos and busyness we share with one another. Why is it that during the holidays, when we should be focusing on gratitude, we find things to complain about?
The word “gratitude,” according to Psychology Today, is:
“…an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to a consumer-oriented emphasis on what one wants or needs. Gratitude is getting a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology: Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, grateful thinking—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased levels of energy, optimism, and empathy.”
In my experience, the statement above is completely true. I have, for quite some time, felt an appreciation for the experiences in my life, but I didn’t develop the habit until about three years ago, when instilling a bedtime routine with my then-three-month-old son Ayden. In addition to bath and story time, we added saying our “gratefuls.”
One year ago, Ayden spoke his first gratefuls during a trip to Puerto Rico. After a day at the pool or beach, we were in our hotel room, getting ready for bed, and he actually participated. For the first time he said, “So grateful happy time.” I still tear up when I think of that moment.
Since then, his vocabulary has expanded, but every night he starts with, “I’m so grateful happy time…” Isn’t that so true? The more you practice gratitude, the happier you become.
Life coach Tony Robbins says: “Gratitude is a habit we can grow through practice” and “When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears.” I have seen his words manifest themselves in my own life in so many ways, by noticing and appreciating what is around me, large and small.
Practicing gratitude goes hand in hand with practicing yoga. Just as being on my mat brings me to the present and heals me, gratitude does the same. With these two practices, I am able to experience a deeper love for myself and the world around me. After every class I teach, we end with gratitude.
So let’s start our resolutions now and consciously begin to practice gratitude on a daily basis. Share your thoughts with friends and family, tell them how much you appreciate them (they may not know) or write a gratitude journal. I have even seen Facebook Gratitude challenges pop up over the last year. Why not start your own?
As Amma says, “Gratitude is the mother of all feelings. It’s the highest expression of emotion within human consciousness.”