A Season of Gratitude

A Season of Gratitude

Emma Owan

WORDS: @lauralrubin

Here we are, folks. The Holidays, with their many joys and challenges. Amidst all that, it’s pretty easy to get unmoored, for our grounding practices to become less consistent. An accessible solution that helps you enjoy your holidays is literally at hand. A pen-to-paper gratitude practice helps you stay focused on what matters most.

Gratitude is a life-hack, a super-power of sorts. It can help you retrain your brain to become a more positive person. How? It’s called “the Tetris effect.” The video game has been known to have a scientifically measurable impact on people’s brains and even invade their dreams. Similarly, the effect of practicing and retaining a more positive thinking pattern has a powerful upside.

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Over the past two decades studies have consistently found that people who practice gratitude report fewer symptoms of illness, more optimism and happiness, stronger relationships, and more generous behavior, among other benefits.

Where to start? And then how to keep it feeling fresh and inspiring? A few suggestions:

  • Just a few minutes will do. Squeeze it in where and when you can. Aim for 4 minutes of gratitude 4 times a week. Want to keep writing? Great, then just keep going.
  • If you find it starting to get repetitive over time, create an entry of your “usual suspects” and park them on the page. You are officially grateful for these things in perpetuity. Now look further afield and scan your life for additional things for which to be grateful. This strengthens your positive lens. Gratitude-colored glasses.
  • Tap into your senses. What sights, sounds, tastes, textures and scents are you grateful for?
  • Don’t stop at the “what.” Go further, tap into the why. Why are you grateful for the items on your list?
Yes to all of that. But when I contemplate a typical gratitude practice it actually seems fairly self-centered. Yes, you’re being grateful on the page and that benefits you. Ok, what next? Who else?

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Whether or not your annual turkey is being sliced up in front of you, or a recent memory, here’s something to consider. “Thanksgiving” is a compound word. It contains “thanks” (we got that part covered) and, oh hey, giving. It’s good to be thankful. But now, give it away. Help your gratitude grow some feet and go out into the world.

Via whatever means, try writing a simple note of thanks to someone that has positively impacted you and your life. Not for something transactional, like a present. This isn’t a thank you card to Aunt Irene for the birthday check for fifty bucks. A simple kindness, a moment that mattered, a way of being that shed light in the dark. These are the subtle but important things that might otherwise go unsaid, un-honored.

This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive letter. No need to get bogged down, a few sentences will do and off it goes. And just wait to see what comes back your way. It tends to be pretty wonderful.

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Laura Rubin is a writer and creative coach who guides journaling workshops and mindful writing sessions for companies such as Dior, Google, Goop, Miu Miu, Netflix, Salesforce and many more. Her work has been featured in media, including The New York Times, Forbes, Conde Nast Traveler, Washington Post and Vogue. To learn more visit www.allswellcreative.com