I did my yoga teacher training through Namaskar Yoga in Saskatoon under the guidance of Kathleen and Doug . Approximately once month for a little over a year I would spend a weekend immersed in learning various aspects of yoga. At the beginning of each weekend Kathleen would remind us that we never know what others might be going through. She reminded us that just by looking at others we might not see the struggles and challenges they were facing at this moment. Anyone in our group could be having a hard day including our teachers. Therefore she stressed the importance of kindness towards one another.
I have been thinking a lot about that lately. As we enter the second wave our pandemic which is proving to have higher numbers than the first wave, I see people struggling to maintain their usual optimism. As I hear those I know with small businesses tune into the daily news briefings, I see the fear and the worry they have about how another lockdown might impact the future of their dream and hard work. Even those who know and often give gratitude for their many blessings are now struggling with the weight of what the winter ahead might bring.
I definitely don’t have all the answers. I have no interest in accidentally falling into toxic positivity by talking about gratitude and all the self care things you could be doing. Though there is value in gratitude and self care, it seems to me there is also value in acknowledging this unique time we are in. Maybe you are struggling today and not being able to practice self care or gratitude is just another thing you are feeling bad about at this moment.
Instead, this is just a reminder that we really don’t know in what ways those around us might be struggling. This is a little reminder to be kind to those we encounter. Perhaps what we initially see in them is not the whole story. Maybe there is more going on that if we knew might change our initial reaction and judgement. This is also a little reminder to be kind to yourself. We might be struggling and think that it is just us. We might wonder how everyone around us is doing okay but why we’re not. I assure that you are not the only one. You are doing the best you can at this moment. Today that is enough.
I am a big believer in the benefits of cultivating gratitude. I have kept a gratitude journal on and off for over two decades. It is one of simplest tools I use that I can credit for helping me to stay positive, joyful, and seeing beauty in the world.
During this time where we are facing a global pandemic we suddenly find ourselves facing added stresses, fears, and anxiety. In no way do I want to diminish the obstacles folks are facing at this time. I can only imagine what some might be experiencing. Many of us have lost employment and are facing financial uncertainty. Those who are still working face the greater chance they may become exposed to the coronavirus and possibly take it home to their loved ones. As I am writing there have been over 3/4 of a million cases of Covid-19 with almost 40,000 deaths. Perhaps you have been affected in one of these ways.
However, even in the darkest times we usually have at least some things to be grateful for. I am hoping to share some things that I am currently grateful for. Maybe these things will help spark ideas of the things that you have to be grateful for in your life. Many of the things on my list are quite general while others are more personal.
If you find at times in the next days or weeks you are really struggling I encourage you to cultivate your own list. Spend the time, write it all down so on your dark days you can refer back to it and be inspired by your own words.
- Sunshine and blue skies
- The birds’ morning song at my window
- That my family and loved ones are safe and healthy so far
- Feeling Healthy
- Snuggles from my dog
- Time to read books
- Having lots of books in my home to read
- Lots of e-resources through my local library
- All the people staying home & practicing social distancing to help flatten the curve
- Unconditional love from pets
- All the essential workers who are stepping up and making sure we have the necessities, and working to keep us healthy and safe
- Canada’s healthcare system
- A cosy home to stay during this time
- Food in the fridge and cupboards
- Technology that is keeping everyone connected
- The opportunity to use the work I do to support charity
- Supportive friends, family and clients
- Time to give my house a thorough spring cleaning
- The scent in my home after washing the floors (thanks to a fabulous eco-friendly cleaner)
- That I can stay home, stay safe and not inadvertently pick up the virus, and worse unknowingly pass to another
- Time to play with learning a new language
- Lots of options to listen to all kinds of music
- That the weather is warming and I can start to put away some of our winter gear
- Cleaning the deck and anticipating sitting out there to read soon
- Starting to plant some seeds indoors
- Time to work on some writing
- Time to work on some learning
- Old movies on the TV
- Time to play around with my guitar
- Planning for a garden
- Going for walks with the dog
- The scent from essential oils/incense
- A good cuppa tea
- Being able to take virtual classes from a variety of yoga teachers and fitness instructors
- Time to meditate
- The free app Insight Timer
- Buds appearing on the trees
- Musicians doing online performances
- The creativity people are showing during this time as they try to stay connected and try to inspire others
- Museums offering virtual tours
- Time to try some new recipes
- The sound of wind chimes in the breeze
- Getting my bike out for a ride down a quiet country road
- Time to play around with some arts and crafts
- The beauty of sunrises and sunsets
- Seeing the moon and the stars
- Time to work on sleep rituals and working on getting a better night’s sleep
- A cosy bed to snuggle into at the end of the day
With everything going on in the world it is a fabulous time for people of all ages to start or get back to the practice of keeping a gratitude journal. I was first introduced to the idea in the book Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach 2 decades ago. Since then over the I have kept a gratitude journal on and off.
While some people suggest sitting down with this journal at the end of the day, I find first thing in the morning works best for me. With my morning cuppa tea I simply add 5 things I am grateful for. It is a simple, short ritual that gives you a positive start to your day.
In The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown she discusses wholehearted living and one quality wholehearted people cultivate is gratitude. She claims gratitude is not something you either have or not. Instead, she discusses how wholehearted people practice gratitude and then become more grateful.
Often it is the little things that I am most grateful for. Today’s entries are- 1 . I am grateful that it is the first day of spring 2. I am grateful for sunshine and blue skies 3. I am grateful that Canada is taking Covid-19 seriously 4. I am grateful that I know so many people taking Covid-19 seriously and doing everything they can to prevent it spreading 5. I am grateful to have so many books to read while home practicing social distancing
Keeping a gratitude journal over the years is one tool I would credit for helping me keep a positive outlook. As we face uncertainty in the weeks ahead I would encourage everyone to give this daily habit a try.