Welcome to the November installment of our year-long essay series that explores topics to help us all experience a more mindful, present, and connected life. In this month of Thanksgiving, Communications Director Jennifer A. Barefoot reveals important reasons why gratitude in an integral part of her daily ritual.
Cultivating a thankful heart all year long
“Gratitude is a state of being in which we feel connected to everything in the universe. It is a fullness of the heart that recognizes the blessings of Nature within and without. Gratitude is love for the goodness of life itself.” — Deepak Chopra, M.D.
Fourteen years ago September, I began my gratitude journey. Today it’s a deliberate and daily practice that I continue to work at. Since giving birth to my two children, I’m even more inspired. For me, gratitude helps put things in perspective – to accept and appreciate my life as it is right now.
Gratitude helps me realize what I have.
My life is not perfect. I have challenges, that’s for sure. But practicing gratitude has changed my perspective for the better. I am quicker to identify and celebrate the goodness that is plentiful in my life. And I have inner-strength to block and tackle toxic and negative emotions that surface.
Gratitude brings more joy to my life.
Practicing gratitude has taught me that when I see the good, it becomes more difficult for me to complain. It has prioritized how I want to spend my energy, so that I am less and less bogged down in things that don’t really matter to me and my family in the long run. This positive perspective has strengthened my relationships, reduced my stress, and brought me more joy.
Gratitude keeps me focused on the present.
Practicing gratitude helps me feel more comfortable with uncertainty. No longer do I take things for granted. I appreciate what I have and what I am experiencing right now. I notice more, value more, and have more magnified experiences. Hugs are deeper, laughter is richer and meals are more exquisite. Gratitude roots me in the present moment, enabling me to be a greater participant in my life.
During this time of Thanksgiving, we all have an opportunity to embrace the practice of gratitude. As your family comes together to give thanks, create some space to pause and reflect in gratitude.
One of my family’s favorite dinner-time rituals is to take turns sharing one or two things that we are grateful for today. The resulting conversation is always powerful and rewarding. Try weaving this gratitude exercise into your Thanksgiving meal. And maybe every family dinner thereafter. And just maybe, you start recording your daily gratitude. Let your journey begin…
Other articles in this series:
January: Welcome to a Bright New Year
February: Passion & Possibility
March: Curiosity & Creativity
April: Turn Your Passion into Action
May: Words of Wisdom
June: Always There
July: Pass the Ketchup, Please
August: The Moment of Truth
September: Being an Adult is Overrated
October: Why we Fall in Love with Autumn in Arizona
November: Practicing Gratitude
December: ‘Tis the Season for Magic
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