Attitude of Gratitude

by | Writing Exercises

I used to have a supervisor in graduate school that talked about paradoxes… a lot! It was amusing seeing him chuckle inside when he introduced the idea of paradoxical interventions to us beginning therapists. In fact, I perceived him chuckling to himself quite often, as he noticed his eager (i.e., anxious) supervisees wracking our already psychology-filled minds with evermore information. Thank you, Ed, for calling my attention to the wonderful world of paradoxes!

I think of Ed whenever I say to my clients, “there are two sides to every coin.” What I mean by this is – life is full of paradoxes! Nothing is as it originally was. Think about that.

Ever have a day or two when “everything” is perceived as negative, annoying, or a waste of time? It’s often a good sign that you need to amp up your self-care routine, eat well, exercise, sleep well, and be well. Ahem. I wanted to talk about gratitude because of a couple self-admitted pity parties I had earlier in the week.

A pity party is an ego-based experience, in which one’s mind is narrow and reactionary. Self-compassion is an entirely different phenomenon – self-compassion is a conscious process in which you hear your own feelings in a judgment free zone, acknowledge your needs, accept your situation in the moment, and open yourself up to a helpful plan of action.

I rechanneled this pity party into a compassion party. I decided to adopt an attitude of gratitude, in which I took inventory of things in the past days I was sincerely thankful for, including:

  1. Experiencing a sun shower. I feel such a sense of peace and wellbeing during sun showers. I felt compelled to open my arms up to the rain and smile at the sun!
  2. Consistently getting up early to do yoga. Yoga has helped me generate more gratitude for this body I’ve been given. Yoga has helped me play, lengthen, and strengthen. A good friend introduced me to a wonderful home-based practice. A double dose of gratitude for her!
  3. Catching up with a friend over ice cream. Need I say more?
  4. The gentle breeze that accompanied me on the walk/run I did with one of my favorite people. I was also grateful my left knee didn’t throb as it has these past 10 years during running attempts. I compounded gratitude for deep breathing practices, which allowed me to pace myself for more than two blocks without panting. (Hey, we all have to start somewhere…).
  5. Feeling enveloped with kindness and love during meditation. It’s a beautiful experience when you use the tools of meditation, yoga, and mindfulness to help you be.
  6. Allowing myself to share some of my deepest fears with a good friend AND feeling heard and understood.

The reason why I love this idea of an attitude of gratitude, is that when you ask for nothing, you are open to receive all. When you have gratitude for what you already have, somehow you are given more. When you say thank you, you are welcomed.

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