As the holidays approach, we are encouraged to feel gratitude and appreciation for our lives; however, we often instead feel stress and anxiety. It can therefore be helpful to remember that gratitude is, like all things, a process. The more you practice it, the easier it becomes. Below I’ve outlined 3 different practices to consider implementing in your life throughout this holiday season (or anytime!). Starting most familiar.
1. Daily Bullet Journal
All you need for this practice is a pen, paper, and 5 minutes per day. Select a time that works for you (consider right before bed) and write down 3 things for which you are grateful. The only rule is that you can’t repeat items. The first few days this will seem quite easy as you jot down things like “my husband” and “a warm home” etc. As the days progress, though, you’ll find yourself becoming more creative -- “the way the edges of the clouds glow as the sun rises behind them” -- and you may even find that your eye has become trained to seek out these little beautiful moments throughout your day.
2. “Think it, Do it”
Whereas the previous activity occurs as an isolated event in your day, this one extends into any moment. Start by choosing a single day to be particularly mindful of your thoughts. As the day unfolds, notice any moment where you consider doing something nice / helpful -- maybe holding the door for someone at the supermarket, or moving rock out of the road, or doing the dishes after dinner. Anytime you have the thought, carry it out. Simple as that. Allow yourself to actually engage in the actions that come to mind and simply observe as you do so.
3. Lovingkindness Meditation
Find a comfortable seat and allow your eyes to close. The ability to extend lovingkindness toward others starts when a person can extend it toward themselves, so picture yourself in a moment of tenderness - maybe as a child or partaking in an activity you care about - and imagine that you are glowing with goodness. Feel that goodness within yourself; recognize that it exists within you always.
You may sit here for a while, but as you feel ready, allow that awareness of goodness to expand. Picture someone you admire. Again, imagine them in a moment of sweetness -- maybe laughing or even sleeping. Hold their image in your mind as you breathe in the goodness emanating from them. Allow yourself to sit here for a moment. The final step is to picture someone you feel neutral toward. As it can be challenging to feel their goodness, consider picturing them in a scene that helps you to see their goodness. I often imagine them walking through a field, gazing at it in wonder. Stay with this visualization until you feel their goodness also. Notice how expansive your field of awareness as it relates to lovingkindess has become. Bask in this glow for as long as you desire.