I was twenty-five and in my very first yoga class when I first heard the expression, “an attitude of gratitude.” My yoga teacher Mary encouraged her students to adopt such an approach and see how it changed our perceptions, and subsequently our lives.
Though yoga was completely foreign to me then, Mary’s idea of consciously deciding to be thankful seemed familiar, probably thanks to my mother’s frequent reminders to “count your blessings.”
I’ve been counting my blessings for years. I make a mental list, ticking off all my many gifts one by one. I start off with general things, such as my family and a strong heart that beats, and wind up with more specific things, such as an afternoon talking about writing with my close friend Lori over blueberry tea.
Counting my blessings tends to make me happier. Sometimes the practice even prevents me from succumbing to dark moods, to which many creative types seem prone.
A recent public experiment in the UK concluded that smiling, counting your blessings and reliving happy memories all boost your mood.
“Thinking of a positive thing that happened the day before was by far the most effective way for people to cheer themselves up,” read an article from the Guardian. “It could be something as simple as a great cup of coffee or meal, watching a good film or television programme, or things going well at work.”
My sister’s family has a similar bedtime ritual. Before turning out the lights she or my brother-in-law often ask their children, “What was your favorite thing about today?” What a beautiful way to send a child off to sleep: not only with a pleasant memory dancing in the mind’s eye, but with the invitation to share it as well.
So, in the spirit of spreading thankfulness, I ask: What was your most positive experience in the past twenty-four hours?
Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope tomorrow (and every day) blesses you with warmth, laughter, and abundance.
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