Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A day that is often filled with family and lots of food and some thankfulness or maybe not. Walking into this holiday season can be challenging on many levels. Differences and conflict tend to surface more than commonality and gratitude.
As part of my spiritual lifestyle I realized a while ago that I had a grateful attitude rather than a grateful practice (as Brené Brown puts it in Gifts of Imperfection). Meaning, I talked about gratitude and the importance of being thankful for the things in my life and I have had an on and off relationship with acknowledge them. I used to text a friend everyday with “three good things from my day”. That fell off. I tried to pick up this practice with my daughter since she was little and asked her what three good things from her day were. As a private yoga instructor, I felt almost hypocritical that I would encourage my students to recognize the things in their life that they are thankful for when I wasn’t exercising a consistent practice of gratitude.
As part of my quiet time and daily practices, I incorporated journaling each day about four to five things I am thankful for in my life. I also to try to focus on my relational aspects because for me when I can find the space to be thankful for the people in my life, I grow those relationships into something more meaningful. As I have grown in my practice of gratitude, I have realized that I can now look at very painful interactions or relationships in a new light. I have perspective and awareness that the spaces in my life that are the most difficult and painful for me also offer me the most space to grow and heal.
I have shared before, that I have a family member who is a recovering addict. One way for me to look at this is in anger and resentment and trust me I did that for a long time. Turns out though that the person that hurts the most is me. I was stuck and lonely and unhappy. Then I had the beautiful gift of recovery. A dear friend invited me into her own personal journey of recovery, and I am so thankful for her and her honesty. I was invited into a therapy group through a local addiction therapist and then started to attend that group and Al-Anon.
I am so thankful for both of these communities and my personal and spiritual growth through both spaces. I can honestly say, I am thankful for what I have walked through, not because it was easy or that I won’t walk through more challenges but because I am a more sane and joyful human being. I can say that this path of difficulty has led me to a place of serenity that I didn’t know before these hard times. I can say I am grateful for the most difficult things in my life because they have taught me compassion and empathy and love and grace and gratitude.
Can you start a new practice this holiday season and write down what you are grateful for every day? Can you pregame plan for your holiday with family and friends that you might find difficult and find something about them that you are grateful for? Can you choose gratitude for your life as it is in this moment in time?
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