November closed out with an attempted evolved version of American Thanksgiving, so it’s usually the month that gratitude is on people’s radars.
I want to dive into gratitude on a grander scale.
Being grateful one day or one month of the year is fine; it’s a small baby step in the direction of something greater. So if you fall in this category, at least you experience, if just for small moments, the benefits that come from feeling and expressing this word.
I invite you to grow that.
Perhaps you can work to graduate into having a gratitude practice where you write or express a few things you’re grateful for every day to see how turning the simple expression of a word into a daily practice bares more fruits of consistent “labor”.
Because let’s be honest, sometimes it’s really hard to be genuinely grateful for what’s happening in our lives…
Now, what about embodying gratitude 24/7? I mean…
Is the full embodiment of this really beautiful, healing, expansive state of being even possible?
In November, I spent 10 days in Brazil at the 1st Indigenous Festival União dos Povos (which translates to “Union of Peoples“) where I met the leaders of 12 tribes, got to listen to talks about their practices and traditions, shared in their songs and dances, sat with their medicine, was enlightened to their pain points from the state of the world and climate, basked in the radiance of their embodied gratitude for every thing, every one, nature, life.
Countless times a day throughout the entire festival, you heard the word “gratidão” which means “gratitude“.
Gratitude for the sun as it lights our days and its fire brings warmth to our souls. Gratitude for the trees who grow tall and kiss the sun and sky; may we learn to be as humble and devoted. Gratitude for the Earth and the sounds our feet make as we walk upon Her because it lets us know we belong here and are all connected…
For maybe the fourth time in my life, I felt like I was living inside of the bubble of gratitude fully embodied.
But how do we get there?
How do we get from the occasional conscious expression of a word to a fully embodied state of gratitude as a way of life?
I think there are a couple things that go into it.
First, there’s a level of humility.
Humility requires both strength and vulnerability, so it’s not an easy place to hang out in (especially for the ego), but in humility, we’re not fixing or judging, we’re not wanting things to be any better, worse, or different than they are. In humility, we aren’t entitled or owed anything; we recognize our place—our individual piece of the greater puzzle of existence—and we accept that.
When you’re able to accept yourself and life and situations just as they are, gratitude is able to grow from that.
The second thing is presence.
When we let the previous experiences of our lives inform our current ones, we’re in the past. When we replay things that happened, or what we should have done, we’re venturing into imagination because we’re giving energy to a version of the past that didn’t even happen. When we write to-do lists and make plans for what’s to come whether it’s later today or 30 years from now, we’re in a potential, yet imagined, future.
And yes, there’s a place and time to address both sides of presence, but it’s far less than we are often practicing. Meaning, presence is another key to gratitude.
When we are not in the past or future, when we aren’t pressing replay or fast forward, when we aren’t caught up in imagination and the what-should-have-happened’s or what-should-be-happening’s, we’re right here, right now. And when we stay right here, right now, in every new right now, we’re better able to more fully see the beauty of what’s occurring inside and around us.
The space that was being taken up by past and future musings is free to receive present stimuli.
And that’s why we’re here: to experience. To experience this material world on the physical plane. To recognize our lives are a series of pendulum swings off center, and that each one is practice for us to come back into alignment with who we truly are. To realize we don’t have to stay in “the game”, that experiencing it all can simply be enough.
When you live in embodied gratitude, which asks of you both humility and presence, the pendulum ceases to exist. The cycle breaks. You step out of the hamster wheel. Whatever metaphor you want to use. But life changes in a truly miraculous way because going forward, there’s peace with what is.
Your piece, your peace.
This holiday season, I invite you to expand your gratitude from humility and presence. Acknowledge your piece of the puzzle and allow that to be enough, filling you with the peace that comes from accepting what is with contentment and gratitude, always.