When I was younger, I often found myself frustrated when things didn't go my way. I felt duped by what I couldn't actually control, and let down by how reality didn't seem to align with the high expectations that I set for myself. When I shared these feelings with my mother, she always reminded me to do the same thing: allow yourself to feel let down for a bit, but then work on moving on.
Sitting with emotions.
This activity always seemed like an interesting proposition. On one hand, it gives yourself permission to feel and allows yourself to explore the depths of angst or disappointment. On the other hand, it's a chance to practice letting go and learn how to shift your perspective towards newness and possibility. It allows us to actively manage how our thoughts affect our feelings, and therefore more consciously own those emotions. But something I hadn't considered until recently was sitting with the good feelings too.
We live in an age of not enough, where many people experience FOMO ("fear of missing out"), or are always in search of the bigger and better thing. So often, we spend time focusing on what's next that we forget to acknowledge what is now.
I found myself in a similar situation when I began to plan some activities to get involved and explore the communities in my still "new" city. I built a set of goals that would help propel me forward, expand my network, and help me continue to grow towards this awesome life that I've always imagined. The only issue? My free time was limited, and I was amidst some life changes.
By probing deeper to understand what I really meant by "this awesome life that I've always imagined," I realized that to some extent, I was already living it. Sure, these goals were still something to actively explore, but it revealed that there was something else I needed to incorporate into my life: more gratitude.
Gratitude involves expressing appreciation for what you have. Exploring it can help boost your energy, encourage optimism, and even make you more successful in the long run. Robert Emmons, a gratitude researcher at the University of California at Davis, also notes that simple exercises of gratitude add up over time, and incorporating it into daily habits can help encourage your overall sense of happiness and well-being. He notes that "once you get started, you find more and more things to be grateful for."
In the past, I've tried to practice gratitude on a daily basis. I've done gratitude journals, gratitude jars, and explored other methods of thanking myself, but then I closed the book or put the top back on the jar, never to explore those feelings again. So I brainstormed a bit, and came up with an idea on how to incorporate it into something I already do on a daily basis,
My challenge to myself? Three times a week, I will incorporate gratitude into my daily meditation. This is something that will allow me to continue making my twice-daily meditations a habit, and build a practice of gratitude towards the life that I am already living. My desired outcomes? Feeling more grounded, present, and proud of myself on a daily basis.
Interested in learning more? Here's how it works:
- The night before your meditation, spend some time thinking about what you are grateful for...right now. It could be something as simple as having a great phone call or eating a good meal. It could be as complex as finding a new place to live or accomplishing a big goal at work.
- Write it down somewhere that will be easily accessible in the morning. For me this involves updating the subject line of a daily alarm I've set as a reminder to do my meditation. You could use a notebook or sticky note as well.
- On the following day, or when you do your meditation, re-read your note of gratitude, and fully embody it while meditating. This could be by imagining the words in your mind's eye or chanting it as a mantra. It could be by using the feeling of gratitude to send warmth towards anything painful that you notice while scanning yourself in the moment.
- Focus on how this feeling of gratitude resonates through your body.
- Practice this type of gratitude a few times a week or whenever you need to reminder of what you're doing well in life. And take note of how this type of noticing and awareness feels, and if you find yourself being more present on a daily basis.