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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Practicing Gratitude

Melissa’s Mindful Moments

Practicing Gratitude

Melissa Ann Roush, MS, LPC-Intern

Supervised by Katrena Hart, LPC-S

Ahhh…the holiday season is upon us. Peace, love, joy and goodwill towards all, right? Well, not always. The holiday season is a time for many that can actually increase anxiety and depression. Most of us know the pressure of attending the party we really do not want to attend, loving the gift we really do not love, making small talk with the relative we really would love to avoid, spending the money we really do not have, or experiencing the joy we really do not feel during this season. So how do we practice gratitude at these times?

First, as mentioned in my previous blog, we practice being compassionate with ourselves and accept our feelings for what they are in the moment. We acknowledge and do not judge.

Then we begin to practice (yes, practice!) gratitude by first saying “Yes and…”

What does this mean? Well, let’s say you do not really want to go to Uncle So and So’s 60th Holiday White Elephant Bash. First, you admit to yourself that you do not want to go and resist making any negative judgments about yourself or the multiple reasons why Uncle So and So is a “So and So.” Perhaps you decide the reason you do not want to go is valid enough, and letting go of the voice of guilt, you choose not to go.

But, perhaps you choose to go despite the many reasons you would really rather avoid it. Here is where you practice gratitude. You begin by saying “Yes, I do not want to go. Yes there are all these reasons (you can enumerate as many as you wish).” Then you add your gratitude “AND I am grateful that….

(Possibilities):

“….I have a choice in the matter.”

“…I have another party to attend afterward.”

“…I have memories of “Uncle So and So” that make for great stories.”

“…I always love to see (Aunt…cousin…his dog…) at this party.”

“…I can show off my cute/cool outfit.”

“…I have wanted to get rid of this Shake Weight since I bought it!”

You see, the practice of gratitude, like all mindfulness and heart based practices, is a practice for a good reason. The reason to practice is that it is not always easy to find gratitude for difficult times or in the midst of a difficult experience. However, practicing ways to find pieces of gratitude does reduce suffering, and that is worth its weight in gold. Sure it is easy to be grateful for all the fantastic gifts and blessings we receive in our life, but the greatest gift you can give to yourself is the attitude of gratitude for all that comes your way…the good, the bad, and the ugly sweater. We do not have to deceive ourselves, but we can practice looking for even the smallest of gifts in the experience.

When you can find a reason to be grateful for everything that comes to you, even just a piece of it, you increase joy across the totality of your life and reduce suffering. With practice, you may actually find more to be thankful for and that is a gift indeed!

Melissa Roush, MS, LPC-Intern has been a mindfulness practioner in her personal life for 10 years and counting. She currently incorporates mindfulness based therapies into her work with clients and continues to increase her understanding and education on the neuroscience behind the practice. Melissa also teaches and leads Mindfulness groups for Bridging Harts. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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