I currently spend four hours a day in a midwestern elementary school. In addition to memories of book fairs and cafeteria biscuits, the experience brings back vivid memories of the craft time on vacation. In these schools, the corridors are lined with sequined paper turkeys, each with the sentence: “I am grateful for ______”. The last part varies from turkey to turkey; Some children are grateful for their parents, others for food and shelter. Regardless of their answer, the children are ready for something.
As yogis, we are taught to accept gratitude. It is a safe place to return to in moments of stress and anxiety. But for some people, finding gratitude is a challenge. Which is not alarming. To quote a recent New York Times article:Gratitude is difficult because life is difficult. "
But can we become more grateful even when our circumstances contradict the feeling? This article says yes. By actively choosing to practice gratitude, we increase our general happiness.
From the New York Times:
This is not just hokum for self improvement. For example, Researchers in a 2003 study one group of study participants was randomly assigned to keep a short weekly list of the things they were grateful for, while other groups listed anger or neutral events. Ten weeks later, the first group enjoyed significantly higher life satisfaction than the others. Other studies have shown the same pattern and reached the same conclusion.
So even if you don't necessarily have something to be thankful for, you will find something. And write it down.
There have been countless studies of the effects of creating one's own happiness, whether through positive thinking, meditation, or laughter. The magazine Cerebal Cortex Illustrates the direct effect of gratitude on the hypothalamus and how it is able to stimulate the ventral tegmental area, resulting in pleasurable sensations. In other words, "choosing to be happy" isn't as ridiculous as it sounds.
There are several things you can do to bring a grateful mindset back into your life, starting with three different types of gratitude. The first, inner gratitude, is the practice of private gratitude. This means that you take a mental note of yourself trying to find the good in your situation. For example, think: “Me I may not want to go to this job, but I am glad that I am employed and am grateful for those who took the time to plan this event. "
Another form is outward gratitude, which encourages individuals to say thank you in a public forum. The New York Times describes it as follows:
The psychologist Martin Seligman, founder of the "Positive Psychology" department, gives some practical suggestions. In his bestseller “Authentic Happiness”, he recommends readers to systematically thank them in letters to relatives and colleagues. One disciplined way to put this into action is to make it as routine as morning coffee. Every morning, write two quick emails to friends, family, or coworkers thanking them for their work.
Not only does this increase your own happiness, but it also makes you feel a little better. Because how often does someone say thank you by chance? Unexpected friendliness is always a pleasure.
The last is to be grateful for the useless things. These can also be categorized as simple; the smell of coffee, the smooth exterior of an apple, and the textured bark of a tree all fall into this group.
Whether you feel like it or not, this Christmas you can find some time to look for things that will inspire gratitude. It can be as great as your family, or as simple as a jar of honey. Whatever you choose, take a moment to focus on the silent blessings of this cause. You could even make a turkey for it.
Photo by Maria Gotay
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Amanda Kohr is a 25-year-old writer and photographer with a passion for yoga, food, and travel. She prefers to bathe in the moonlight than in the sun and likes to live in a state of the three Cs: cozy, creative and curious. When she's not writing, she drives her VW Beetle in search of the next attraction on the roadside or the family dinner. She also surfs the internet at amandakohr.com.