Closing Rituals Pt. 2: Gratitude
Welcome to Part Two of my three-part series on closing rituals. Writing the end-of-year letter to yourself came first. You can read all about that here. Mix and match. Do the practices that resonate with you. Tell me how you do with each one, or if you feel stuck. I’m here to support you in living your most vibrant life!
It’s Christmas Eve. In my family, the holidays are a big deal. Between Church, Italian Christmas Eve, all of my mom and dad’s mostly Asian friends coming over for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and my older sister’s birthday, this time of year historically means coming together with the people who make up my biological and emotional family. Even though the religious significance no longer resonate with me, wintertime holidays still hold tremendous significance. These traditions are rooted in gratitude. Many challenging, jumbled, hard-to-sort emotions come up when I return to my hometown. Because of built in negativity bias, it can be easy to sink into the not-so-great feelings. Gratitude reframes even the most negative feels that come up and roots the holidays, the traditions, the time, in sweetness and joy.
Gratitude has become one of my most important daily practices. I recognize a huge difference in my emotional/mental state when I don’t practice gratitude. It may sounds endlessly naive and hopeful, but hopefully if you’re here, you believe the world is generally a good place too. Gratitude makes people more optimistic and kind. Gratitude shows us the silver lining. Even the most uncomfortable situations give us something. Can you learn to see it and be thankful for it? The end of the year is a wonderful time to revisit a gratitude practice or begin a new one.
If you are new to a gratitude practice, that’s fine. Start here:
Write down ten (or more!) things that you are grateful for this past year. That could be anything from a person entering our life, to a gift someone gave you, to an experience like a vacation.
Next, underneath, next to, around, or however you spatially organize your gratitude list, write why you are grateful for that thing. Be as specific as possible. So instead of I am grateful for my trip to Belize because it made me happy, try I am grateful for my trip to Belize because I met ten new people who expanded my perception of the world and ultimately made me a more compassionate and aware version of myself.
Survey the things that you are grateful for. Do you notice any themes? Are there similar experiences or concepts emerging? Maybe you have written several adventures that you are grateful for. Maybe you are thankful for types of conversations with specific people. Whatever it may be, start to notice. How can you create moments like this in your everyday life?
Brainstorm some simple ideas that offer you that same joy that you find in your grateful moments. For example, Belize gave me adventure, meeting new people, and the understanding that we travel to come back home. In my everyday life, what if I ventured to a place in the city I had never been before by taking a slightly different route to work? What if I saw these places with fresh eyes, interacted with the people or moments along the way with as much excitement and joy as I did when I was in Belize where everything was new and exciting? What if I took that excitement, that adventure, and saw how lucky I was to come home to the same place every day, knowing that awaiting me was comfort and familiarity? One small action changes the world.
If you practice gratitude, in a formal or informal way frequently, then you are aquatinted with the above. This is where the work gets a bit more challenging. Let’s look at the gratitude process from another angle. Write down five to ten moments this year that profoundly shifted something inside of you. If something “negative” comes up, get interested in it, write it down. A bad breakup, a loss of job, the entirety of the Trump Administration’s decisions? All things to write down and explore. In fact, if something is upsetting you, I challenge you to dig into it.
Got them down on paper? Fantastic. After each of these moments dentifrice why, they had such a profound effect on you.
Now, find the silver lining. Why might you be grateful for these experiences? This year, I had incredible moments of challenge in both my personal and professional life. Those experiences though revealed to me a pattern of being used, allowing myself to be taken advantage of, and a fear of advocating for myself. It was thanks to heartbreak and being let go that I realized how often I was sacrificing my integrity to serve the motives or ego of another. Not anymore. My standards are higher. My bullshit tolerance is lower. My life is better.
Graitude is the foundation of my life. Usually, when I’m upset or depressed or feeling stuck, it’s because I fail to find the moments of gratitude. Looking back on the year as a whole and allowing myself to find the silver lining in every moment gives me the oppritunity to reframe. Choose graitude and you choose joy.
Happy Holidays! Next up: Part III: Setting Intentions. Catch it later this week!