Mental Health and Gratitude
"There is no room for fear and anxiety in gratitude" ~ Deepak Chopra
My word for 2019 is "THRIVE" and I have had a focus area for each month. I created an initial plan for the year as a whole, but was open to whatever would present itself as the appropriate focus as I entered each month. Near the end of March, I was reminded that the next Oprah (Winfrey) & Deepak (Chopra) 21 day Meditation Experience would be starting with an emphasis on Manifesting Grace Through Gratitude. As I have been looking for some inspiration to get back into my regular daily meditation, this felt like the right time and topic. I dove in March 25th and knew after the first few days my heart needed to spend April focusing on Gratitude. What I did not anticipate was how this specific topic would profoundly impact my mental health.
I have highlighted a number of the tools that I use to help me stay in a place of good mental health, and meditation is decidedly one of them (Mental Health and Meditation). However, I admittedly never considered gratitude as one of those tools. To broaden the impact of the lessons shared in the Meditation Experience, I choose to incorporate more ways to show gratitude in my daily life. I started a simple list of daily gratitude, highlighting the big or small things that I am truly grateful for. I also decided I needed to find a literal expression of gratitude, so I went on a mission to write small cards to many of the people I interact with on a daily basis who add so much to my life. While the gesture was just intended as a simple thanks, the impact for me and many of the recipients was much greater.
For myself, taking the time to sit down with pen and paper and consider what I wanted to express to each person was poignant as I reflected on the kindness they bestowed on me. I kept coming back to the wonderful Marcel Proust quote on gratitude: "Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." I am blessed to have a tribe of "gardeners" who bring an immense amount of grace into my life. The process of expressing my gratitude calmed my thoughts, forced my attention to the blessings in life, and took away the tendency to worry and fear. I literally felt a lightness to my outlook on my day when I started in a place of being grateful. My mood was uplifted and my stress levels were greatly reduced. And all as a result of such an easy and collectively beneficial act.
The unexpected benefit from this practice was the response of the people I reached out to. My heart was sincerely touched by their reactions to my simple token of gratitude. Many of them reached out to me sharing how my simple words made their day or in turn changed their outlook on an event in their lives. It was a great reminder to me that we as human beings do not show anywhere near enough gratitude and kindness to our fellow man. A simple and sincere thank you could be the impetus to a shift in how we all treat and see each other and improve the general mental health of our society. Okay, so maybe that's ambitious, but I challenge you to give a try. Make a specific plan to write, call, text, email or just tell a few people what you appreciate about them and see where it takes you.
"When gratitude is the natural way you approach life, it is no longer an activity you try to remember to do. Gratitude is simply how you express who you are and how you feel. The practice of gratitude naturally and invisibly becomes a life lived in the state of grace." Deepak Chopra best summed up how I want live on the path of gratitude, good mental health, and the pursuit of a mindful life.