A Little Gratitude

Everyday Mindfulness Gratitude Inspiration Mindfulness Practice

Recently a friend had one of those experiences that caused her to find gratitude – if only for a short while.  The kind of experience that caused her to be grateful to walk through the doors of her house without any assistance; grateful for her family and friends; and grateful to be here every minute of the day.  The kind of experience that reminds those around her to be grateful because we never know what’s going to happen from moment to moment or day to day.

Why does it take one of those experiences to remind us how precious every moment of life is for each of us?  To remind us that whether it’s a pleasant moment, an unpleasant moment, or a boring moment it is our life and we should accept it and be thankful.  Why is it much easier to get caught up in life and let day after day go by without really thinking about it?Pink Flower

Researchers are finding gratitude to be a wonderful thing.  It helps us be thankful for the good moments and it actually increases life satisfaction, optimism, and joy and decreases anxiety and depression.  You can find all the details about why Gratitude is good for us on this gratitude page provided by the Greater Good Center at Berkley.  In addition, this Berkley site supports your efforts by providing ideas for how to cultivate gratitude.

As you finish this post, I invite you to sit back in your chair.  To close your eyes and take 3 long deep breaths and then as your breath settles back to its normal exhale and inhale, be grateful for that moment and the things we take for granted in every moment.  Be grateful for your eyes that allowed you to read this post or your ears that allowed you to listen to it.  Be grateful that you woke up this morning and that your normal day filled with acquaintances and loved ones and strangers is all around you.  Add the things you want to be grateful for today.  I invite you to feel gratitude and warmth toward yourself in this very moment.   You may then want to use some of the tips in the Berkley article above to begin cultivating more gratitude into your life, without the need for a life changing experience.

Share with us what you are grateful for today.

Kindness Toward Self = Honesty With Self

Everyday Mindfulness Inspiration

Following last week’s post, which showed us that by providing acts of kindness to others we can make ourselves happier, I’d like to talk about actually showing kindness toward self. We are often not kind to ourselves.  Interestingly, I was just discussing with a client recently how we are often kinder to strangers than we are to ourselves.  Do you find this to be true?  Even a little?  I see this every day in dear friends and strangers.  In fact, many have heard me encourage kindness to self before.  Why am I so preachy about this very important effort?  I've experienced firsthand what it was like to not be kind to myself and the difference that effort of gentleness with self has made in my life.

I am enough

The realization that I needed to accept myself to truly understand what it was to accept others was a huge step forward for me.  What did it mean to me to be kind and gentle to myself?  To me it meant to realize when I am causing myself suffering through my words, thoughts, and actions.  The suffering of wishing I’d spoken to others in a kinder way, or acted differently; the suffering of spending hours thinking about something I cannot change, something that will never happen, or didn't even really happen the way I've redesigned it in my mind; and the suffering of putting food or substances into my body that cause it harm both in the short term and the long term.  And as much as I work on this, I’m constantly reminding myself. Gentle… Enough….

Dr. Kristin Neff with the University of Texas Austin has done a lot of research on Self-Compassion.  You may have seen her excellent Ted Talk.  She tells us that self-compassion increases motivation.  People with more self-compassion have less depression and are less critical, and they are more likely to honestly note the places in their lives that need to be changed and to move forward with that change.  You can imagine that if someone kicked you every time you realized you could improve how you communicated or acted in your life, you wouldn't be very honest with those realizations.  Our mind knows this.  If all we do is tell ourselves how stupid we are; or how much work we have yet to do before we amount to anything; or how lazy we are; or how we've never done anything right; chances are we do a lot of mental kicking ourselves or we have a tendency to be less than honest with ourselves about these things.  In either case, we don’t tend to move forward with positive change when being mean or dishonest with ourselves.  But, when we are gently honest we develop a sincere desire to make changes.

To begin showing yourself warmth, I strongly encourage taking up Loving Kindness, also called Metta, meditation.  Following are some links to free guided Loving Kindness meditations that you can try.  You can also watch for my online classes to be released in April.  Loving Kindness will be one of the meditations I teach!

How were you kind to yourself today?

Resources for self-compassion:

Dr. Kristin Neff’s website: http://www.self-compassion.org/

40 Ways to Practice Self-Kindness - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kindness-blog/40-ways-to-practice-selfk_b_5886794.html

Developing Self Compassion and Learning to be Nicer to Ourselves: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/self-compassion-learning-to-be-nicer-to-ourselves/