Tip of the Week: Cultivate Gratitude
On Wednesday night, I took part in a seminar hosted by the UCLA Alumni Association called "Mindfulness at Thanksgiving: Cultivating Appreciation and Gratitude in Your Life." The session featured Clyde Boiston, who led us on a guided meditation, and spoke about the myriad benefits of adding more gratitude to our lives.
I recognized that I often fail to acknowledge the many things in life I have to be grateful for. My mind prefers to settle on those things that I don't have, or those which I do that I consider not good enough.
At the end of the session, Boiston opened up the Zoom chat for people to answer a number of questions about things they appreciate in life. For example, "What is something that brings you joy in the outdoors?" We strangers in the chat found that we could come up with literally dozens of simple things to be grateful for: a sunset, fresh air, a park down the street.
Boiston also read through a number of poems and inspirational messages intended to help us cultivate gratefulness. I found a version of one of these, emphasizing how much most of us have to be grateful for. "If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, then you are richer than 75% of this world."
Gratitude is not just about perspective, not just about recognizing that you have things better than others, but about not taking for granted the things that you often do. This week's tip is to pause and think about any of the things you're grateful for, even for a moment. Better yet, write them down if you have the time. Studies have shown that writing down things we're grateful for, or writing a gratitude letter to someone else, makes measurable positive changes in the brain. Gratitude is great to share with others, but it proves beneficial even if you keep what you're grateful for to yourself. Give it a shot this weekend.
(The UCLA Alumni Association recorded the session but hasn't yet uploaded it to their YouTube channel. I'll link to it in a future issue if it's posted.)