As we find ourselves 8+ months into the COVID-19 pandemic with worsening conditions, along with the attempted derailment of the usual transfer of power in the United States after a tense election, the continued opening of deep and scaring wounds from racial injustice, a climate in crisis that is continually being denied by a large segment of the power elite in one of the largest contributing nations on the planet, and ongoing natural disasters that continue to outdo their predecessors, it's hard to find the wherewithal to practice gratitude, much less extend it.
But, while finding moments of gratitude can be challenging, those small moments can add up to big shifts in our inclination in our day-to-day life, as well as provide protective factors against the ongoing stress and trauma we find ourselves in today.
The science* on gratitude is hopeful:
*Taken from The Science of Gratitude: A white paper prepared for the John Templeton Foundation by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.
As with all the benefits from our mindfulness and loving kindness practices, practicing when things are smooth and easy going helps embed them in our minds more easily and readily, but what happens when things are challenging?
When we are in fight/flight/freeze response, it is much more difficult to practice these beneficial behaviors. Over time, this can mean a diminishing of our capacity to respond lovingly and with care.
Here are four key factors that can help us shift out of fear, anger, anxiety and reconnect to the felt sense of gratitude goodness:
This practice not only shifts your current experience, it creates a new habit and orientation in the brain that makes it more readily accessible during difficult times and non-stressful times--it becomes a protective factor. It also ripples out to all you come into contact with following the experience. And during these challenging times, we can all use a bit more warmth, caring and connection.
Here's a guided version of this meditation from the Mindful and Intentional Living Facebook page.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.