Several months ago, in an effort to engage more fully with a gratitude practice in our home and in our relationship, my sweetheart and I began one of my most cherished rituals. Each evening, before dinner, we share with each other what we are most grateful for in that moment. It is our Grace, our blessing over our home, our love and our meal together, a moment of recognition for what we have, what we are. It begins what is such a communal experience, eating a meal together, with connection, beauty, appreciation, peace.
Gratitude has the power to transform, to uplift, to inspire and to heal. Experts — from researchers to physicians, therapists to wellness practitioners — continue to discover new ways that gratitude contributes to our whole-body wellness. Researchers have found that individuals who cultivate gratitude in their lives experience greater levels of joy, get sick less often, exercise more regularly, sleep better and achieve greater success in reaching their own goals.
However, for many of us, our gratitude practices are limited to the month of November — never intentionally extended beyond the celebration of Thanksgiving. For some of us, our gratitude practices never really get off of the ground, lost in repetition or the daily grind. Gratitude jars are left half-filled. Gratitude journals with only a few pages scribbled in. Our gratitude repeated, almost as if a mantra — grateful for family, for my home, for my health. Touching the surface of our thankfulness, hiding the depth and power beneath those declarations of gratefulness.
This month, I encourage you to cultivate a practice and engage with gratitude. Beyond the health benefits, to engage with life, with loved ones, with joy. Explore the depth of your gratitude. Be detailed, specific. Give words to your appreciation. Rather than stopping at “I am grateful for our home…” — engage with your gratitude. I am grateful for our home, for giving us a place to dance to our favorite songs. Rather than stopping at “I’m grateful for our family…” — engage further. I am grateful for the conversation that I had with my sister today, for having someone that “gets” me and supports my dreams. Even at it’s most basic, gratitude transforms. Today, I am grateful for getting up and moving, for breath and that cup of jasmine tea.
For late night dance parties to our favorite love songs. For getting to meet with my girlfriends over coffee. For long walks with man’s best friend and the view at the end of the journey. For access to organic, local and sustainable, real food. For that conversation we had last night. For the hug he gave me this morning before he left for work. For my best friend, for her laughter and support and love, even when she is in that deep, dark place. For the financial ability to make the choice to join that gym. For downward dogs and sun salutations. For my healing relationships. Grateful.