True story. A few months ago I became quite sick. 30 days of 102 degree fever. Anemic. Pints of blood donated to all kinds of infectious disease blood tests. No clear diagnosis of what was wrong. Three rounds of antibiotics. I think my body had a clear message for me. It was time to rest. No choice. So rest I did. On a couch facing our garden. Slowing down, something new emerged. A kind of silence. In that silence, I heard the faint voice of intuition: “Give one thousand gratitudes.” Here’s how that dialogue went:
Intuition: “Give one thousand gratitudes.”
Me: “What, one thousand? That can’t be right. It will take me like a whole year to do that! Three gratitudes a day…” mentally doing the math.
Intuition: “Just start with the first.”
Me: “Okay, how about like a 100?” (did I mention I’m a good negotiator?)
Intuition was gentle but persistent. It was my choice. So sort of begrudgingly I said okay, and started writing. At first it was for the big blessings: family, friends, home, work I love. Then, I started noticing birds at the bird feeder in the garden. Just delighting in them. And the color of the sky at sunset. And feeling gratitude for the days I had more energy. And that made me feel better. Gratitude has that impact on us. The more we give, the more we get.
This week’s mindful practice is to cultivate gratitude in the present moment. Our mind has 50 to 80 thousand thoughts a day. Can one thousand be thoughts of gratitude? To practice this, you can start by taking a deep breath and ask “what’s good here now?” at any moment. To remind yourself, start by putting a timer on your phone to just take a deep breath, ask the question, and truly feel it. Neuroscience research shows that feelings of gratitude enhance dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters responsible for happiness. Gratitude also reduces fear and anxiety by regulating stress hormones. Here are the seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude.
Wishing you a mindful (and grateful) week,
P.S. One-Minute Mindfulness are short reads that give you a practice a week so you can experience being mindful in the activities you’re already doing. If you’d like to learn and create mindfulness habits with team-mates and friends, please share this link to sign up.
P.P.S. I would love for you to share your experience or questions from this practice and share what you’ve learned in the comments below.