I look forward to this November Blog on gratitude every year. Writing on gratitude brings a smile to my face because it is an opportunity to reflect and share how my gratitude journey has evolved and progressed over the past ten years. In this newsletter, we are going deeper and will explore, what I call, The Heartset of Gratitude.
I choose the word “heartset” with intention – because gratitude is an emotion and comes from the heart. “Heartset” changes the focus from the mind and the ego to our heart. More importantly, “heartset” also brings to the fore our passion for how we are living our life – how we are seeing our own reality – as we move forward on our own unique journey.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed almost 200 years ago,
“People only see what they are prepared to see.
If you look for what is good and what you can be grateful for,
you will find it everywhere.”
How do we see the good and find it everywhere in the midst of a global COVID-19 pandemic and a stress epidemic? I wish I had a simple answer to offer.
I believe discovering the Heartset of Gratitude is a light on the path to the process we follow to go deeply within to discover our answers. Let us explore how we shift from where we are to where we want to be.
A beautiful way to start to explore a Heartset of Gratitude is a meditation by one of my favorite teachers on Insight Timer, Sarah Blondin. This 9-minute meditation, “Accepting Change [is] learning to come to a place of love and acceptance in the sometimes challenging place of change.” Accepting Change. To go directly to the meditation, please click on https://insig.ht/FCivX4VLObb.
To create a Heartset of Gratitude, we must first do our inner work and learn to break through the clouds – the clouds of negative self-talk, doubts and limiting beliefs -- and see our light. May Sarah’s voice and message be the perfect inspiration for all of us! I love her line “We cannot see the gift in what we resist.”
I am not going to summarize Sarah Blondin's key points because meditation is a deeply personal experience. I strongly encourage you to explore what Sarah Blondin's meditation says to your soul. I come back to this meditation often and it always reveals something new to me.
The shift in how we create our Mindset of Gratitude usually starts with small steps, new habits and practices. It is a journey. And our work – our inner work – just gets deeper and deeper. Once we get into the rhythm of a daily gratitude practice – the next step is to learn how to extend the practice to more than a once or twice a day. How do we stay in the moment – rather than get caught up in the business of the day, the regrets about the past or worries about the future? How do we shape our lens of perception throughout the day as new challenges arise, to see the good and be grateful? Good questions!
I do not have the answers for you. What I can do is offer a path, the process I have used, to move forward to overcome the obstacles that get in our way to being in the moment and feeling gratitude.
Indeed, the work of embodying a Mindset of Gratitude is challenging -- and we are never done. It is a journey -- and one I have been on for many years. I am excited to continue to learn and go deeper. I do not get discouraged -- because I have learned how to accept myself as I am -- wherever I am, without judgment. After all, what is the difference between work and play -- if you are on your soul mission?
Let us start by exploring the key challenges most of us face in breaking through our clouds – our negative and limiting beliefs -- in order to come to a place where we can feel gratitude and truly live with the Heartset of Gratitude. For starters:
And the list goes on and on. These are real reactions and emotions. The question is: How will we respond?
First, it is important to be aware of our reactions, and accept ourselves and how we feel in the moment. So often, we bury our emotions and just plow on through, because that is what we have been taught to do – or that is what we believe we need to do. We say to ourselves -- Shut it down! Put it in a box. File it away! Bury it!
Next, and most important, BREATHE – at least 7 deep diaphragmatic breaths to trigger our Relaxation Response and to fully accept ourselves, without judgment.
What if we gave ourselves the space to acknowledge and accept that we are feeling sad, frustrated, angry, or hurt? What if we could give ourselves the time to process – to assimilate what is going on in our minds and be curious? What if we learned to take a step back and observe ourselves, without judgment? When we are ready – in a few minutes, or hours or the next day, let us ask, “What is really going on here? What is actually under my control? What is the lesson here for me?” This is the essence of the insight, “We cannot see the gift in what we resist.”
When we find ourselves caught up in negative self-talk, such as life sucks, good riddance to 2020, how can we reframe our self-talk and ask what is the lesson, the gift I need to learn? Is it my resilience? Perhaps it may be the love and support of my friends and family? Is it my Faith?
When we are overwhelmed and constantly complaining, how can we reframe our heartset and ask, “How can I slowdown? Who can I ask to support me? What can I control and what can I do to take better care of my health?”
When we find ourselves judging others and ourselves, what can we do to be kind and forgiving to others and ourselves? Remember, forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves – and it sets us free.
I have been on this journey of Heartfelt Gratitude for the past 10 years. Wow – I feel blessed! I do not have all the answers for me – and what I do Know for sure is that I am making progress and growing.
The journey to create a Heartset of Gratitude is about about Choices – YOU decide what makes sense for you.
Wherever you are on your journey to creating the Heartset of Gratitude – start NOW! Start with some of the practices we have talked about in prior Blogs. Learn from my journey and learn from others – and apply what makes sense in your life today.
Past Blogs have explored a range of gratitude practices. For example:
Other habits which have proven to be effective for cultivating gratitude are taking a walk and connecting with nature; talking to plants; dancing and other forms of creative expression. Sometimes doing something for another person or your pet – the simple act of giving – lifts our spirit and brings gratitude to our day and others.
We have talked about the difference between gratitude and appreciation – about how gratitude is an emotion, a deeply felt emotional experience. It is important to put words to our emotions. For example:
Past Blogs have also detailed how my gratitude journey has evolved and morphed over the past 10 years.
It is important that we each find the practices and rituals which resonate within us – so that we bring consistency to these habits and ingrain them in how we live our days. In my experience, it is not a straight line -- it is a process of learning and relearning and growth. It can be messy at times. Persist -- keep going and growing!
I know I am leaving you with more questions than answers – and that is because, quite simply – only you can discover your answers!
Please find some measure of comfort that you are not alone on this journey. We are all asking these questions. With the support of family, friends and coaches -- and faith -- I trust we are looking to the light of 2021 and new discoveries.
Till next time, stay well.
May you be happy now and always
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