Like we’ve mentioned in previous weeks, the holiday season is typically seen as a time to count our blessings and practice gratitude. And Thanksgiving is especially linked with gratitude—the holiday is literally named “thanks-giving.”
Most of us know the importance of gratitude and you might even be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, I know this already…” Perhaps you practice gratitude daily or you share what you are thankful for at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Yet for many of us, gratitude is an intellectual experience rather than a felt and embodied experience. We think about all the things we are grateful for, listing them out either verbally or on paper. Yet many of us (including myself) rarely let ourselves feel the emotions and physical sensations of gratitude. When gratitude stays in our head and remains an intellectual experience, we don’t get to soak up all the amazing benefits of gratitude. In fact, listing the things we are grateful for can even feel monotonous or tedious at times.
So what can we do? How do we bring gratitude from our head down into our heart and body?
The first way most of us stay in our heads is just by listing a ton of general things we are thankful for at once like the following:
I’m grateful for my home, coffee, my partner, my friends, my family, my cat, and for my job as a COR facilitator.
When we list things out generally, either in our heads or on paper, we don’t actually get to feel it in our hearts or bodies. Even as you read the list above, it probably sounded a bit monotonous.
Instead, it’s much more effective when we go into detail about what we are grateful for and why.
Research shows that when you share the specifics about what you are grateful for and go into detail, like listing 5 sentences about one thing, you feel much more gratitude and elation than when you list 5 general things. The key is in the details.
For example, see how your own body and heart feels after reading this gratitude list:
I am grateful for coffee. I am grateful for how coffee warms my hands and my body up on a cold morning. I am thankful for the deep, rich taste of black coffee and it’s spicy, cocoa aroma. I’m grateful for the energy and invigoration I feel after sipping a cup of coffee. And I’m thankful how coffee can immediately make me feel more relaxed and at ease the moment I take my first sip on the couch.
When we list out the details and specifics about what we are grateful for, especially sensory details and how something makes us feel emotionally, we drop gratitude from our heads and into our hearts and bodies.
An added bonus: During and after you either share or journal about what you are grateful for, sense into your body and your heart, noticing how you feel physically and emotionally. Perhaps you notice a feeling of peace or joy begin to fill your heart. Or maybe you notice your chest feels more open, your stomach less tight and more at ease.
So my invitation for you this Thanksgiving:
1. Share or journal about at least one thing you are grateful for and share the details.
For everything you say you are thankful for, share 5 reasons why you are grateful for it. For example, share how it makes you feel emotionally. Share the specifics of why you are grateful for it. What need does this thing fulfill in you that you are grateful for? Safety? Trust? Acceptance? Understanding? And share the physical sensations you are grateful for.
2. Let yourself feel it
Take a moment after you share or journal to close your eyes and begin to sense into your heart. How do you feel emotionally at the moment? And then sense into your physical body. How does your body feel after you’ve shared?
So much love to you, our COR community, this holiday season. We’d love to know: what is one thing you are grateful for and why? Make sure to share it on our Facebook page in lots of detail! We’d love to help foster a community of gratitude and share in the holiday spirit with you.
Grateful for you love, support, and courageous hearts,