Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Happy November! I know that being reminded to be grateful this time of year is quite the cliche', but it's important to feed our joy and feelings of gratitude to support our mental and emotional wellbeing.
I decided to stay on this topic of gratitude and joy anyways. Let me tell you why.... well, it's my birthday month and I really do enjoy Thanksgiving (the food, smells, traditions, pumpkins and fall leaves on the table). But there was another inspiration....
I was doing a meditation a week ago and during my deepest stillness I silently asked myself "is there something I need to know right now?"
The answer.... clear as day....
"Lighten up buttercup, let's go out and play."
I burst into laughter out loud!
If you know me fairly well, you know this is not language that I would typically speak. This was something inside me (God, true nature, universe, whatever most speaks to you) that wished to remind me not to take life so seriously, as I sometimes do. It was a reminder to find joy in the simple moments and to be grateful for all that I have or have had in my life.
Life doesn't have to be "perfect" or "how you want it to be" to experience joy and gratitude. After almost 2 years of being in a Pandemic, there's a lot of grief and stress which can put up blinders to tiny moments of joy that we can experience now or that we can bring to mind from our past. Just as grief and stress are normal emotions to have, joy and gratitude are also needed to help balance things out (emotional regulation).
A year or so ago, I took a course on positive nueroplasticity and I'm now a facilitator of the program. What I learned is that inclining the mind to soak in a positive moment, current, something coming in the future, or something in the past can greatly improve our life satisfaction - feeling more joy and gratitude. When you purposefully think of a moment of joy or gratitude, your body can literally bring back the feeling as you had felt it before and the brain shifts into a more joyful state. The more you "soak in the good" the more often you feel joy and gratitude.
Here's a great article to learn more.
Thanksgiving is coming soon and there are a lot of varied emotions depending on your situation. Some will stress about who they will spend the holiday with, some will spend it alone, some will gather with loved ones seats not filled, some will be gathering with politically divided family, some will have a Friendsgiving, some will visit a food bank to eat, some will be on the other side of the table serving guests. Regardless of your situation, it's important to practice feeling joy and gratitude. We need to feel joy more often to offset/balance the unpleasant feelings we have.
Here's a brief practice:
Sit or lie down and get comfy. Close your eyes or have a soft gaze looking downward.
Bring to mind an event, person, animal, childhood memory, anything that brings brings you a memory or feeling of joy and happiness
Whatever you chose, really create a vivid image. Picture the person, place, animal, event. The smile, the fur, the event and who was around.
Imagine the voice, the smile, the smells, the surroundings of being in the presence of this thing you've chosen.
Imagine being in the presence of it.
Perhaps bring a smile to your face
Feel the warmth that this image brings to mind
Notice what you feel in your body
Perhaps silently label words such as joy, fun, warmth, whatever words come to your mind
Take a deep breath in and as you slowly breathe out, imagine this joy begins to fill your body
With each breath, imagine all of your organs are being filled with this joy
Then from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, you are filing every cell with this feeling you are having
Just feel what it's like to have your whole body filled with this joy
Really soak in in
When you are ready, you can open your eyes
Notice how you feel over the next hour. I'd love to hear how it went!
P.S. Be on the lookout for a gratitude meditation on my website in the next day or two.