Having a Gratitude Practice

Gratitude: Such a simple, yet powerful and important part of life. The list of health benefits of being grateful, and expressing thanks for big and small moments, is endless. I became more aware of the benefits of being grateful some time ago when I discovered the positive effects it was having on my mental health. Years ago, I had suffered on and off from depression and anxiety. When I began to focus on self-care, by having a regular routine of meditation and yoga, my ability to be more grateful increased. Writing and learning about haiku has helped me with the healing process and continues to help me to be present, to practice awareness, and to have gratitude every day no matter what is going on around me.

Clearly, we are living in intensely turbulent times and people are suffering from stress and fear about the future. The title of this blog could be…. “How to find things to be grateful for during a pandemic”. When you’re in the middle of the dark forest, feeling lost and don’t see a way out, it becomes overwhelming, stressful and can feel like a scary place. As we keep hearing, we’re in this together. This is only one part of this year that has been helpful for me stay grounded, knowing that positive things are underlying the current situation that is yet to be seen and felt. Having a positive outlook and attitude can provide a new way of looking at things especially when life is challenging.

Finding gratitude in the simple and small things is slowly becoming a trend during this time. When was the last time you went for a walk and practiced being grateful for the change in the season, the rain dampening your hair or the autumn breeze blowing through your bones. As challenging as this time is, have you been able to see the silver linings and reflect on the positive things that are coming out of it?  Gratitude reminds us how special, beautiful and fortunate our lives are, even under stressful or precarious conditions. By practicing gratitude for all the good things that life has to offer can lift you out of darkness. Trusting that things always change, and sometimes things need to fall apart for them to be restructured in a better way, that in the long run, is going to be a healthier way of living. 

The autumn is a time of year when we can reflect on what we are thankful for. Although it’s good (and even traditional) to count your blessings on Thanksgiving Day, being grateful throughout the year can have tremendous benefits for your quality of life. In fact, gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools that we all can access every day. Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t require much time. As well, the benefits are huge. Thanksgiving is a time to come together, this year, in small gatherings and express thanks for where we live, who we are, of the blessings we share. This is a time to be grateful for what we have as well as to reflect on what more we want from life.

October is the perfect month and opportunity to begin a daily practice of gratitude. When you wake up in the morning, give yourself a few minutes of quiet time and think of three things that you’re grateful for. It could be the sun beaming through the bedroom window, thinking about the care-workers who are saving lives during the pandemic or the abundance of fresh food in your fridge to enjoy throughout the day. At the end of the day, do the same thing. Three simple things that made your day ordinary or extraordinary, as a reminder for what matters the most. 

The gift of a crisis such as this, can bring out the best in people, to remind us why it is important to celebrate every day filled with love so we can share it with our families, our neighbours, and friends. This turning point in history is an opportunity to take care of ourselves, our communities, and our planet better than we ever have. We all strive for more out of life and need to remind ourselves that joy can be felt in the smallest of sweet moments, which with awareness we can be grateful for. And haiku poetry can sometimes help us do exactly that.

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