Reclaiming a Grateful Heart
Recently I had a realization about my relationship with gratitude.
It felt icky and uncomfortable, and there it was anyways.
I realized I had not been making space for gratitude and that the energy of appreciation had weakened in my life.
Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in my personal journey and goals I miss THE journey.
I miss Life. I miss the gifts of each day. I miss the magic of being.
It’s easy for any of us to do. Especially during seasons of stress and challenge. Yet those are the seasons in our lives where we most need to cultivate appreciation and abundance of spirit.
Appreciation is like aloe for the soul.
It opens us up. It heals our hearts. It flows our energy. It brings more grace and perspective into our days.
It helps us be mindful of the good things that ARE happening, instead of focusing on what’s not happening.
So, with that, I’m personally focusing on appreciation this month. I’ve created a short teaching video on the topic, and in this post, I’m going to share more perspectives and creative ideas on how to bring more appreciation into our lives.
Three Ways to Increase Appreciation in Your Life
1. Practice the art of ‘tiny thankful things.’
Something I did way back yonder in 2012- when I was first building a new template of self after an intense spiritual awakening- was make frequent lists of ‘tiny thankful things.’ My lists were how I appreciated the good things that happened each day.
Fluffy marshmallow clouds. Fresh mushrooms on the trails in fall. A great sandwich. A quiet pause between clients. A good book. Cuddles with Dog. Candles. A nice glass of wine. Time with friends. Clean sheets. The smell of the breeze.
My lists were my way of nourishing the essence of appreciation by intentionally noticing moments of ease, pleasure, and joy.
Little lists are a beautiful way to draw our attention to what goes right in the day.
Bringing the intention of appreciation into our days helps us bring our focus to the moment, allowing us to sink into life’s goodness and savor. Savoring helps bring the body into the present and it helps us drop into the energy of our heart chakra, so we can be still and truly experience the positive.
2. Develop a strategy that turns comparison into connection.
In this age of constant information flow, it’s easy to look outside of our heart’s innate intelligence (which will always tell us we are doing divinely fine), and compare ourselves to others. Or feel like we aren’t doing enough. Or think we’re behind the curve.
I’ve found that falling down this rabbit hole takes us to an immediate space of lack. That’s a tough place to to get out of the longer we focus on feeling like others have it better.
So recently, I’ve been working on how to exhale comparison and breathe in connection by shifting the energy of comparison into the energy of generosity, appreciation, and gratitude.
The easiest way to do this is to send a blessing to others by asking the universe to bring more good things into their life. In so doing, not only will you shift your heart into a space of abundance (because there actually IS room enough for all of us to win), but you are also opening yourself up to receiving more goodness, because you are sowing the energy of abundance.
We reap what we sow. It’s a universal law and karmic principle, which echoes the golden rule of doing unto others as we desire for ourselves. We get a return on the energy we put out into the world, and we get to make choices around what kind of energy we choose to create.
We can choose to trade competition for connection. Comparison for cheering humanity on. Lack for love. Fear for faith. Self-centered for heart-centered: knowing the heart is always an immediate game changer and will help bring us back to gratitude. + abuncance
(This particular wisdom came to me via an angelic message, if you’d like to hear more on the topic you can find the message from the angels here. )
3. Reflect on a time in your life when you wanted what you have now.
It’s human nature to strive for more. It’s one of the things that makes us so resilient, forward thinking, and creative.
But what often happens between setting out to create something and achieving our goal is we become used to it. We take our progress for granted. We get to the place we worked so hard to arrive and still feeling dissatisfied.
I notice this happens within my own journey, and something I’ve been learning in bigger ways is to release the idea of “life will be better when…”. Instead, I continue to try and embrace and live the truth: Life is beautiful now.
After losing my brother in 2016, I learned to appreciate my life in a deeper, more valued way. The following passage from my grief book, Lamentations of The Sea, reflects some of the wisdom learned during that time.
“Each of us is spinning out our stories each and every day and these days, these days right now, are the days we have to look to for better. Have to find the beauty in. Have to see the light of soul's becoming, even in the face of dark. Each day that offers breath is one more day of better. We just don't always have the eyes to see, which has a lot less to do with looking with the mind and more to do with listening with the heart.”
I still believe that’s true. Sometimes I forget to embody it, but when I can get back in alignment with the truth of my heart, I’m reminded that each day is its own gift of possibility. Each day is an opportunity to sink into what it means to be both human and divine.
The beauty is happening right now, it’s a matter of learning to see it from the eyes of the heart. Finding ways to continually reaffirm the gift of being helps us cherish the sanctity of a moment and collect each day like a rare piece of art.
Learning to Reclaim a Grateful Heart
It’s not easy staying in a space of appreciation. Life happens. Sometimes it’s hard and we dip into all the emotions that go along with stress and the messy bits of humaning. I think it’s really important not to beat ourselves up when we do this- - we are all human, learning and growing as we go.
Instead, I think it’s more helpful to simply think of ways we can realign with appreciation when we notice we’ve gone off course.
I know my 2012-year-old self was onto something when younger me cultivated a fine eye for beauty, appreciation and joy. It helped me find the extraordinary in the everyday and see the magic right before my eyes.
I learned how to light a candle, even when things are dark. I learned that making a list of tiny thankful things is a beautiful way to close the day.