We make a point during this time of year to outwardly express gratitude for the good things in our lives. Some take to social media or a journal each day to write about something for which they are thankful, while others specify time for prayer with the theme of gratitude. There seems to be no limit to the quotes, blogs, images, and articles (like this one) available on the topic.
As yogis we often advocate making gratitude a year-round practice. But what is the best way to incorporate gratitude into daily living, and what makes it worth the effort?
Gratitude is all about perception. As an example, think of the classic “glass-half-full or glass-half-empty” conundrum. One aspect of our yoga practice is learning to become observers of our thoughts and feelings so that we may avoid feeling consumed by the deleterious effects of negative thoughts and emotions. By becoming not the subject, but the observer of our inner monologues, we can alter our perception of transient events, and therefore decide whether to let them affect us in negative or positive ways. Gratitude is a strong positive emotion that we can choose to express whether we really feel it or not. But why work so hard to act grateful at times when we don’t feel grateful? What about when we are stuck in a doom-and-gloom mental cycle, and it seems impossible to think of anything good happening now or in the future?