Today I stopped behind two cars with their blinkers on. When I was telling my husband this story, he interrupted me. Apparently blinkers are actually called hazard lights; I told him this is exactly why I have a blog.
At first I couldn’t tell what was going on, but then I saw them, 6 fuzzy heads crossing the road ahead of one proud momma goose. She was clearly Canadian and not American as she took her time crossing the street, so much so that I looked at the other drivers’ facial expressions.
They were smiling.
Now I live by a golf course, so wildlife impeding traffic is an event I’ve seen played out many times on my way to work. People are always in a rush, looking annoyed, or even beeping their horns to “speed it up a little”.
But today, after months of stay at home orders, these drivers are enjoying the moment. Grateful to be out of the house, grateful to have a job to go to, grateful that life goes on. In the past, I don’t think I would have conceptualized this moment as a gratitude practice.
Before meditation and yoga entered my life, I thought gratitude practice must mean feeling happy every day and sitting with a journal; I struggled to do it. I even tried an app where all I had to do was list three things. I couldn’t do it—my brain (or was it my husband? jk) told me I mustn’t be a grateful person.
Notice the small things, they don’t have to give you goose bumps. When I work with depressed patients we start with things they simply notice; we don’t force a feeling. I once listed leaves that look like butterflies and being able to walk outside.
Think outside of the box.
A gratitude practice doesn’t have to include a journal. I consider scrolling through pictures on my phone a gratitude practice. The pictures I adore the most are of my daughter and my dogs but also my unicorns. Yes, that’s right, I collect pictures of unicorns—that’s a story for another day.
Think with an open mind.
Just like using your phone for your gratitude practice, think about the power of not labeling something as good or bad. Being able to practice non-judgement and non-attachment invites more contentment in life. We can learn to appreciate challenging times.
Many of us are thinking about what we want coming out of this pandemic. I’ll leave you with some wisdom from the Rolling Stones, “you can’t always get what you want”. In fact, you may get something better!
A gratitude practice restores energy for the moments that count. Click here to sign up for more mindfulness tips!