Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives.
Many families have a tradition of going around the table at the Thanksgiving meal to name something they are grateful for that year, while others may incorporate gratitude in a more structured way as part of their morning or evening routines.
Regardless of when we give thanks, the research is clear: expressing gratitude can make you healthier and happier. Yet, like many things that we know will make us healthier and happier, incorporating gratitude into a regular practice is difficult.
I call it a “practice” because if you’re anything like me, you start keeping a gratitude journal for a while and then you get off track. But like exercise, meditation, or any of the other unglamorous things that improve our health and well-being, it’s the decision to forgive yourself and begin again that’s the hardest but most important.
So how can we cultivate a gratitude practice that’s meaningful and sustainable? I believe that the key is present moment awareness.
For the last four years, I’ve been simplifying my life and embracing the lifestyle of minimalism, which I define as removing the excess and that which no longer serves you to make room for what is most important. At this point in my journey, I let go of physical items easily and am better at saying no to commitments that don’t serve me or my family. But I still struggle with attachment to memories of the past, worries about the future, and expectations about how my life is “supposed” to be. Gratitude is an excellent tool that I can use throughout the day to help me refocus on what the present moment is, instead of wishing it would be.
Written by Caitie Wiersma