I can’t remember the last time I made New Year’s resolutions. The thought alone kinda drives me nuts, like I gotta figure out something that’s wrong so that I can fix it. There is often this need to find things in ourselves to change or improve. Instead, why not expend the energy feeling gratitude for our abundance rather than dissatisfaction from a sense of lack?
Here are suggestions that have helped my students:
Start a gratitude journal. It helps to jot down and visually see all that we can be grateful for: family, friends, community, a roof over our heads, a warm bed, central heating, clean running water, hot water, the ability to be selective in our food choices and the fact that we caneat any time we want, education so that we can read/write/communicate/improve our lives, computers/laptops/smart phones to stay connected, different modes of transportation that allow us to go beyond our local communities and have a richer life experience, income that affords us such comforts.
We were born in the Land of Plenty where our subsistence levels far exceed more than half the world population (and I don’t make six figures, folks). When we can wake up every day mindful of all that we have, it starts to become a part of our psyche, a part of who we are rather than another thing we must remind ourselves of. We simply become more content. But we have to stop comparing ourselves to the Joneses, and perhaps compare ourselves to a homeless person struggling to find a decent, nourishing meal and warm shelter. Then we start to feel lucky!
Finding solace and gratitude in beauty that surrounds us is also wonderfully therapeutic. My recent awe of the sunsets over the ocean reminded me that Mother Earth is our greatest gift giver. The simplest pleasures are truly the most divine.
Share the wealth. As I always tell Olivia, “Sharing is caring”. This can come in the form of cleaning out your closets and giving away unused or unwanted clothing, kitchenware, toys, gardening tools, books, furniture. Share what you don’t need with someone who is in dire need. It feels good to light up someone’s day.
Sharing can even come in the form of knowledge or expertise by volunteering your time and talents to worthy causes (teaching under privileged kids to read, making and serving food to the homeless, teaching donation based yoga or yoga and meditation in prisons). These are all much forgotten populations.
SHARE GRATITUDE. Studies have shown that verbal expression of one’s happinesses can have a wonderfully contagious effect. When you share your contentment, it invites others to do the same. It allows those around you to realize the simple abundance that is often taken for granted until it’s gone.
These suggestions can nip negative emotions in the bud. When you feel a lack or lost, try finding gratitude and sharing it with others. The instant sense of connectedness is enough to get you out of a rut.