Expressing gratitude has benefits to you, personally, as well as to all of us, globally. When we live from the heart, grateful for the small blessings that each day brings, the whole world becomes a better place.
Gratitude is a practice. And, like other habits, the more often it is invited in, the more familiar it becomes, so that the gift of gratitude can be evoked more readily. Begin by reminding yourself, every day, to look around your personal world and name three reasons for your own gratitude at that very moment. After a few weeks of this daily practice, that attitude of gratitude will permeate the way you look at all the events in your life.
You will come to see that even challenging times have lessons for which you can feel grateful. That while you impatiently wait on line at the grocery store, the child in the cart before yours turns to you with a blissful smile that melts your heart -- a reason to be grateful. That when you run from your office to your car in the rain and just happen to glance up at the sky, a rainbow has just popped -- a reason for gratitude. That when you can't find a book you've been wanting to read and search high and low in your house, you come upon some old photos of your child as a baby and spend an emotional hour savoring those precious moments -- a real opportunity for gratitude...
Gratitude brings joy, acceptance, forgiveness, and tolerance. Can't the world use a bit of that right about now?
Four elements of savoring an experience: "Basking (receiving praise and congratulations), Thanksgiving (expressing gratitude for blessings), Marveling (losing the self in the wonder of the moment), and Luxuriating (indulging the senses)". This excerpt, which immediately resonated with me when I read it, is from the course manual of the training I am participating in through WellCoaches.
Of these, Marveling is most common to me--I am often mesmerized by the rich details of my life--whether it be during an outing that has me immersed in nature, or the joy of sharing love with family. Standing still, Luxuriating in the sensory responses of the small features of the experience brings me to gratitude. Thanksgiving for the earthy smells or the sound of the wind in the trees, the birdsong along my journey, and the color of the moss plumped up after a rain, or for the radiance of a loved one's smile, the warm touch of a friend's hand on mine, the laughter of a child, and the witness of kindness shared. The element of Basking is what remains elusive to me; not because I am not aware of its presence in my life, but because receiving praise and congratulations it is a squirmy time for me. It's not easy for me to graciously accept positive feedback. I will readily admit, however, that it sure feels yummy when a happy comment is shared about a workshop I have given, or a blog post I have written, or an act of compassion that I have been blessed to be a part of.
I endeavor to expand my professional skill set, to grow as a woman who contributes to the planet, to deepen my connection with my community, and to maintain an open heart throughout each day. I will embrace Basking. Bring it on--praise and congratulations is welcome.
Were there a way to capture the splendor of the forest after the rain...
An unexpected summer storm--cooling down the sizzle of August, dousing the dusty walking paths of my daily excursions, and bringing all of my senses alive--
Dressed in long leggings and a jacket (in August!), I ventured out with my sweetie and my sweet dog to savor the post-storm beauty on a walk through the woods. Immediately I was intoxicated by the smells! I am almost at a loss for words to describe the richness of the varied aromas permeating the cool, fresh air. Mountain misery, wet and sticky, released a pungent sage brush-like flavor; damp Madrone leaves, knocked to the ground by the wind, now gifted me with deliciousness; wet earth smelling so rich and fertile...
And the visuals, oh my, so dazzling. Water droplets clinging to Cedar boughs and catching the sunshine to create prisms of color; dull, brown bark of the Evergreens now vibrant as sepia, burnt sienna, and caramel; pristine white clouds, full and fluffy, against the deep blue summer sky; and the moss, the iridescent greens of which exist only in nature--so luscious and inviting, that I felt compelled to reach out to feel the texture, which was as soft and wet and yummy as it looked.
Speaking of touch, the tactile stimulation was spectacular. Fresh, clean air, cool to my skin, ruffling my hair with the gentle breeze; soft earth underfoot; my hand cupped warmly in my sweetheart's hand; feeling love and sharing in this miracle of nature.
The sounds were just as delightful--birds singing from their hearts, seeming to celebrate the storm's end; water droplets falling to the ground; tree limbs swaying in the breeze; dogs barking from afar; and Grace's charging feet chasing her ball...
I felt as refreshed by our walk than did the forest seem--after the rain. Home again, heart filled with gratitude and a quiet joy for the simple beauty of life.
A run, after the rain
Late in the afternoon, I was fortunate to find thirty minutes to run with my dog. After the torrential rains, the bits of blue sky visible between the dark clouds lured me outside. The sunrays were beaming towards the ground, creating steam from the wet earth, warming.
Senses alive, I savored every moment of the waning afternoon. The smells are what I noticed first, they were so incredibly rich: an earthy aroma of wet dirt and leaves, a crisp freshness in the air, sweet wood smoke. I so love that smell, it is somehow soothing in its’ association with the Fall season.
The visual beauty was astounding: raindrops clinging to tree limbs and leaves, catching the sunlight, creating prisms of color; subtle variations on green—the dull green of the oak leaves, the deep green of the cedar and pine boughs, and most amazing of all is the iridescent greens of the mosses. I have long been fascinated by the mosses, particularly after a rain. What hearty life form this is! Dry and dull after a hot summer, having turned stringy and brown, but after a good rain—it’s a miracle! The moss comes alive, turning a gorgeous vibrant color, plumping up with water, resilient and quietly powerful. Other stimulating sights were the reds and yellows of the changing liquid amber tree leaves, the downed branches from the high winds, and most exquisite was the deep red of the madrone trunk, glistening in the afternoon light. Simply beautiful.
I was serenaded by many birds, their melodic songs seeming to celebrate the end of the storm, were music to my ears: piliated and acorn woodpeckers (yes, they have a distinctly different sound), chickadees, kinglets, house finches, and goldfinches. And the sound of the wind in the tall trees, swaying.
My sense of touch was stimulated as the gentle, fresh breeze ruffled my hair and caressed my skin, by the water drops from the tree limbs, plentiful leaves softening the trail, and by the incredibly supple yet tough feel of the mosses and lichens.
The dust is gone, perhaps for the year now, and that is a welcomed transition. I splashed through puddles on the trail. My heart, on a physical level, was working hard for me, responding well to being engaged in exercise. My spiritual heart was filled with joy for the abundant beauty of the woods after a rain storm, and gratitude for my desire to be out in that natural beauty, moving my body, appreciating that movement, and seeing my dog smile.
I felt a bit crabby, my vision was blurred, my thoughts were disconnected, and I wasn't quite sure at what point in my "learning more about the back end of my new website" session I was. I had entered a technology dead-zone--brain dead that is.
Spending too much time sitting still, especially in front of a computer brings me to that place every time. But today, I had a deadline, a project to complete before bedtime, a commitment had been made, so there I was. With my brain beginning to sizzle and my body feeling antsy. It was getting late, dusk was around the corner.
Aha! A bike ride. Brilliant!
I went out fast, and pushed hard for 50 minutes, while riding our standard neighborhood loop. My senses were so relieved to be outdoors and stimulated by the beauty around me. A sweet, rich aroma permeated the cooling evening air, birds sang from the treetops, the dipping sun cast warm golden light, neighbors walking dogs smiled and waved as I passed, my legs felt strong, lungs were full, heart pumping to keep up. I felt ... marvelous.
Relieved of tension. Able to let go of the brain strain. Buzzed by endorphins. Pleasantly fatigued muscles. Quieted mind. Rejuvenated.