There’s a beautiful quote from Thich Nhat Hanh that always makes me pause and shift my perspective: “Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”
So many of us live inside our minds, over-thinking, over-analyzing, second-guessing, triple-checking, while totally glossing over the bounty of blessings in our lives. We become fixated on doing and going. We become fixated on what we don’t have. And it’s oh-so easy to dwell in a dark place.
It’s understandable and OK that we go there. Because all of our feelings are valid and deserve acknowledgment. But it’s also helpful to refocus and to acknowledge the beauty that’s already present in our everyday.
In Count Your Rainbows: A Gratitude Journal Jenny Mecher features inspiring quotes and thought-provoking prompts to help us appreciate the magnificence in our lives. Below are some of my favorites to help us cultivate gratitude in all sorts of ways.
- Go outside, even if it’s for several minutes. Jot down one thing you enjoy about being outside. The sunshine on your skin. The crisp breeze. The smell of spring flowers. The smell of freshly cut grass. Birds singing. The stars.
- As a child, did you make wish lists for your birthday and the holidays? Today, make a list of all the “gifts” you’ve already received in your life. Write a brief thank-you note next to each gift.
- Think about the delicious food you’ve eaten today. “Starting each thought with ‘I am grateful for….,” jot down some of the things that had to happen for you to have a meal, a snack, or a coffee today.”
- Think about your mornings, and list three simple practices you can incorporate into your routine to start the day with a grateful heart.
- Jot down three most beautiful things you’ve seen this week. Mecher shares these examples: a sunrise on the way to work, a neighbor’s garden on your afternoon run, streetlights glowing on your way home from dinner.
- Incorporate gratitude into your creative process. Reflect on what you appreciate about the experience of being creative. Mecher includes this powerful quote from Deepak Chopra: “Gratitude opens the door to the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. You open the door through gratitude.”
We really are surrounded by countless rainbows when we pause and open our eyes. Maybe you’re grateful for the food on your table, and the people who farmed and planted it. Maybe you’re grateful for your legs, which helped you run a race for a charity that’s special to you. Maybe you’re grateful for your partner who listens to you.
Maybe you’re grateful for your garden, a view you love looking at every morning. Maybe you’re grateful for your hands, which help you write out your feelings. Maybe you’re grateful for your stove, which helps you make meals that nourish you and your family. Maybe you’re grateful for your career.
Maybe you’re grateful for your little girl. Maybe you’re grateful for last night’s gorgeous sparkling stars. Maybe you’re grateful for your laptop. Maybe you’re grateful for a warm day to play tennis with your best friend.
Maybe you’re grateful for running water, and clean, warm sheets. Maybe you’re grateful for FaceTime because it lets your kids see their grandparents. Maybe you’re grateful for formula and a safe crib. Maybe you’re grateful for compassionate roommates.
Maybe you’re grateful for a certain book or blog or podcast that inspires you or makes you laugh or helps you feel less alone. Maybe you’re grateful for people who write about having bipolar disorder or being sober or reconnecting to your body or thriving with an invisible chronic illness.
You can be equally grateful for the big things and the small things. Recognize them. Savor them. Take moments out of your day to walk as if your feet are kissing the ground, as if each minute is an opportunity to see, smell, taste, hear and feel something new. Because, of course, it is.