To age gracefully is to age with gratitude. I embrace, believe and experience this truth every day. Walking life in gratitude is not just a desired quality to aging well, it’s also an antidote for fear, anxiety and mistrust. Our evolution, our awakening as loving human beings is a lifetime journey that constantly asks us to practice gratitude.
As a young woman, I read Ram Dass’ book, Be Here Now. It’s the title that inspires me today. Recently we’ve all experienced worry and stress around the COVID-19 virus. I can find plenty to be upset about, what with panic buying at the grocery store, and the turn-down in the economy. But, I still can only live one day at a time – I can only be here, right now. So, all of the what-if’s that are in my head are just thoughts. They’re not reality. I try to remember that just because I think something, doesn’t mean it’s true.
Today I’ll find three things to be grateful for and I’ll do my best to dwell upon those things instead of worries and concerns. Once I get started, I may find fifty things. My experience of gratitude practice is that when I begin thinking about the things I’m grateful for, the list naturally expands. Sometimes I like to write down what I’m grateful for and describe the “why” of it. Other times I let the gratitude be a reference point that I return to throughout the day. I find that breathing deeply when I discover something to be grateful for, enhances the calm feeling in my being.
When we get anxious, we might think that there isn’t anything to be grateful for. Or, we think that we’re just faking it and that everything really is terrible. When this happens, rather than search for a thing, an event or a person to be grateful for, it’s best to just sit comfortably, close the eyes and breathe in the word “thank you.” Then breath out the word “thank you.” Do this several times until the body starts to relax.
Gratitude is a perfect de-stressor and stress, as we know, is a precursor to disease. One of the ways we can keep our immune systems strong is by practicing gratitude. When I’m feeling grateful, I tend to be inspired by a spirit of generosity. I want to reach out to others – a quick call to a neighbor when I’m headed to get groceries, “do you need anything?” Long-distance phone calls to let friends and family know that I’m thinking about them. These actions offer hope. Like so many people practicing social distancing, I’m letting myself feel close to the people in my life as I hold them in my heart and memory with gratitude.
While it may seem challenging to be grateful during times like these, it’s essential to our sanity. We were never meant to live in just the dark places, but also in the light. Let’s keep opening to the light of hope, grace and love as much as we can. I’m grateful for all of you and thank you for letting me into your life for a little bit. Sending you goodwill and good wishes . . .
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