There is scientific evidence that gratefulness practices have the power to change the bleak outlook and glum disposition of the grim. I have written about neuroplasticity before, which is the ability of our mind to alter the brain by cultivating mini-patterns so that they eventually get entrenched in who we are. It’s practicing baby cartwheels to eventually get us ready for pole vaulting. Well, that’s a little extreme, but you get the idea.
Here is one particular case study. This is a video of a Buddhist meditation/Yoga teacher’s mother who supposedly was a sour miser who was “ruined” forever after her son “trained“ her to find something to be grateful about, no matter how teeny. It's a funny video. Oprah and her propaganda for gratitude diaries was on to something after all.
Since it is Thanksgiving week, I thought I myself would pronounce my gratefulness and thankfulness for the daily miracles in my own life. Because my life has been going at lightning speeds lately, it would be nice to memorialize these “little things”. It would be good practice to step away from the buzz of everyday life and create a little space for counting blessings, if not as a sustained practice, at least this week. Don’t you think it would be nice to look back at them again one day in the future, say five years from now?
But here is something you perhaps would not find in ten-steps-to-gratefulness-or-other books (not that I have checked).
Contemplative and meditative traditions of Buddhism, Zen and Yoga could talk your ears off on this one. Simply put, it’s being in your body, ideally, at all times. What that means is watching your breath (a tiny bit of semi-useless piece of information: did you know that in a single breath, a quadrillion signals are fired by neurons? A quadrillion is a thousand million million. Lots of zeros!). Feeling your heartbeat. Feeling your hands and feet. When was the last time you felt your pinky finger? Exactly the point.
So they say that one shouldn’t just stop at gratefulness. One should feel what it is like to be grateful at the same time. After saying thanks, pause for a moment (closing your eyes help) and soak in the feeling, as if you’re a sommelier having intimate moment with wine.
Oh my goodness. How delicious.
The Chinese are superstitious about Mondays. They say that you should be careful about what you do at the start of the week, because chances are, you would tend to recreate these all week. Hmmm… did a neuropsychologist come up with that? Well, it’s a Monday and I guess there’s no better day for igniting a habit than today!
Today, I am grateful for:
- The gift of remembrance, of memory. I found myself remembering my Dad and the gift of memory allows me to reconnect to that part of me that is him, too. It makes the missing another person a little less lonely if you think that although they have passed on, they are still alive in you. My sleeping patterns have been so wildly off lately and I remembered how my Dad had the most abnormal sleeping habits I’ve seen in anyone. And sometimes I wonder if he was an enlightened being of some sort who has kept this secret all along until he left this plane. And if reincarnations were true, is he back in another human form somewhere and will we meet?
- Living a life that I want to live. It’s really unimaginably larger than life, when I really think about it. It’s amazing how reality is really very farfetched from what our minds can conceive. When I say unimaginably, nothing about where I am has been even remotely close to what my limited mind was capable of imagining and churning. There is stillness where I want stillness. There is tremendous activity where I direct it. It’s a delicate tightrope balance act on your hands, and I acknowledge that not everything is in my control. But for even that humbling truth, I am grateful.
- The internal mysterious rhythms that allow music and its inception to be possible. Making something phenomenal and jaw dropping from practically out of nothing - where does musical genius come from?
- Malleable realities :)(a phrase stolen from Jason Mraz)
- Mondays. If it weren’t for them, there would be no Fridays.
- Friends and family who make time to nurture themselves and are proactive at owning their happiness and destinies. Yay!!!!
- Pretty little pink things for dainty wrists. Michael Kors and his designer who had the genius of designing a pink-faced chrono stainless steel oversized wear-to-the-shower watch
- Snow blanketing mountains. Gorgeous.
- Gavin DeGraw, wailing “I’m gonna love you more thank anyoneeeeeeeeeee….”
- Eyeglasses. Yeah, yeah. Gone were the days of 20-20. And just the gift of vision in general!
- Salsa. Oh MY GOD. Thank you, Billy Bob.
- Short workweeks
- Thanksgiving :)
- And all the turkeys who have died and are going to die yet. :(
What are YOU grateful for?