Over the past few weeks I have been talking to my yoga students about what we actually need to practice in order to cultivate gratitude. It's easy to just say, especially around this time of year, 'be grateful' or 'think of three things you are thankful for.'
You can easily spew out a few things around the Thanksgiving dinner table that you are glad to have in your life, right? In order to truly reach this state of gratitude I think there are a few other steps on the road to getting there.
Presence. Are you really present for your life? In your conversations with loved ones? On your drive to work? The human mind is clear of thought at the time of birth, and then BAM! Thoughts, ideas, noise begin to seep in from day one on earth. It's slow at first. As children we live much more in the present moment than in our later years. And as we age more and more stories start to cloud the mind. This is why it is a practice to stay in the present moment. In conversation with your loved one, are you actually listening to how their day was? On your drive to work, can you honestly say you notice the leaves on the trees? When we are living in the moment, rather than in the past or the future, we are able to truly wake up to what's actually happening in our lives.
Acceptance. Boy is this one that I am constantly reminding myself of. I have a mantra...'I accept things the way they are, and not the way I want them to be.' I've learned that our suffering as humans simply comes from wanting things to be different than they actually are. Can you accept your mother for exactly who she is? Can you accept that your Saturday night is looking like it's going to be spent changing a flat tire rather than going out to a nice dinner? Can you accept the amount in your bank account because you know you are working tirelessly and passionately towards your goal? When we can start to accept the things in our life for exactly how they are we can start to move towards gratitude for those things.
Trust. At the end of the day we have to believe that there is something bigger than our human selves. We have to trust that we are being supported, held, and given in life only what we can truly handle. When we put this trust out in to the world then that energy of faith is sent right back to us. And when we feel supported, we move forward, no matter the circumstance. When we trust in this, then we can undoubtedly be grateful for waking up every morning with a beating heart.
Gratitude is more than just words or declarations. It is all encompassing. It is a certain way in which you live your life. One where you are dialed in to what's happening at this exact moment, accepting things as they are right now, and trusting that you are being supported.
Maybe if we could move closer to this way of being, we could move closer to gratitude. And when we have gratitude our lives become enough.