Gratitude: An Everyday Practice
Joy, peace and love are words frequently said during the holiday season. However, that’s not always what people experience. During this time, there’s more pressure on our ability to give to others— to find that special gift for the ones you love, determine the best way to celebrate with family/friends, or discover ways to serve the greater good. It’s all about contributing to others, the focus is external.
Giving is good. At certain times the motivation needs to be about making a positive impact and helping others. We have teachings that go back in time that promote this behavior. There’s the Golden Rule or the verse in The Bible, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” All encouraging us to treat others on how we would want to be treated.
Except, before we go outside and give to others, I ask you these three questions. Do you have gratitude for your own life? Do you take time for you? How generous are you with yourself? Gratitude is a practice that starts within.
The attitude of gratitude begins with our own self-care. When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others. Why is that the case? If you run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else. This is an valuable metaphor for those of you who focus on taking care of everything and everyone else except yourself.
People think they are selfish the minute they make it a priority to give to themselves. I challenge that thought. I see it in the reverse. When you take care of yourself, it enables you to be at your best. You have more capacity to treat others with love, kindness, patience, and compassion. Additionally, you can really be present with everyday life and live at your highest good.
It’s time to let go of the guilt and the excuses, and put your oxygen mask on first by taking time for you. Start refueling and filling up your own tank. Make the commitment to participate in self- care: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Here are some ideas on how to give to yourself. Most do not require a lot of time or even money.
Connect with nature: Walk on the beach or go to the park and make friends with a nearby tree.
Call a friend: Engage with someone who loves you and gives positivity.
Say NO: Be real when you cannot give and honor your feelings.
Enjoy a delicious meal: Food is love, feed yourself.
Pamper yourself: Buy yourself flowers, take a bubble bath, or “GO BIG” and enjoy a spa day.
Engage in creative activity: Listen to music, take a painting class, or write a short story.
Get up and move: Ride a bike, go for a hike, or run around the block.
Embrace the silence: Meditate, pray, or sit quietly in reflection.
Take a deep breath: Seize the moment, feel the fresh air, and stop to smell the roses.
Laugh out loud: Go to a comedy show, watch a funny sitcom, or just be silly.
As you approach this holiday season, there will be lots to do and people to see. So, I am taking a stand for you. “What self-care will you engage in to embrace the attitude of gratitude within?”
When you treat yourself with respect and love, it’s a real win-win for the world. Not only will you show up at your best, your example will teach valuable lessons to those around you. By appreciating yourself, you show people their worth by giving them permission to take time for themselves. I encourage you to start your practice of gratitude today; you will be happier for it and so will the people in your life.