Though I inevitably suffer from some depression during Winter, I have found ways to maintain an even keel during these shadowed times, to alleviate their unbalancing effects. I allow myself more time to get things done. I allow more “non-directed” time, such as watching TV or just staring out the window, basking in the sun. I forgive myself for not being able to keep up with the world.
Gratitude is another tool for maintaining a positive attitude. A friend of mine keeps a gratitude journal, where he daily notes whatever he can be thankful for. Giving thanks from the heart is healing. It helps us see the glass half full, or even a third full, rather than focusing on what’s missing. With conscious effort, one can reach beyond the natural waves of selfishness which lap at our awareness to a soft place in the heart for offering the gift of gratitude for all that you have.
Gratitude also takes practice! Since it’s given silently from the heart, there’s little discernible evidence that you’ve opened your heart, except to yourself. Those who don’t practice feeling gratitude in their hearts may quickly lose perspective and begin to think they aren’t getting their fair share of happiness, popularity, wealth or love from the world. They can become bitter and poisoned.
Another stumbling block to gratitude is guilt. You may remember your mother telling your to finish your food because children are starving in Africa. Well, it’s true. It’s easy to feel guilty for being selfish, for feeling unable to give gratitude. To that I say, keep it simple. Don’t feel guilty, feel blessed. Just feel blessed.
It’s no wonder gratitude is an integral part of any religious or spiritual practice. In yoga, one says “namaste” with palms together. In Buddhism, one bows with palms together. In Christianity, one prays in thanks with palms together.
So, don’t forget to practice giving thanks daily for what you have. Ask yourself if you are truly giving thanks this Thanksgiving week. Put your palms together to focus the energy of your heart and open the faucet of gratitude. It may squeak a bit at first.