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Making Your Practice Meaningful

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<v ->One of the things that I’ve realized over the years</v> is that gratitude is a choice that we can make, right? It’s not a choice which always comes easy or naturally for people, but it is a choice that we have an opportunity in a situation that presents itself and whether something really bad is happening, we can say, “Okay, well, I’m not grateful this is happening “but what good can come out of this, you know? “What is the opportunity that’s being presented “in this situation?” Not to mention, you know, just everyday life where things happen that are, you know, we could easily take for granted.
Now if we approach those with gratitude we can look at the good in those things, we can take in the good, notice the good, and we can start to look at things as, you know, blessings instead of burdens. We can look at things as possibilities instead of problems, as opportunities instead of difficulties and gratitude is a way of seeing which really changes what we’re looking at but that’s a choice that we have to make it doesn’t get, it doesn’t come easily or naturally to a lot of people though. Here’s a….
You know, one of the risks with something like gratitude is that we make it a very mental practice, you know. We think of only from the neck up, okay. It’s like, okay, so I gotta make a list, I gotta think about the people who supported me, what gifts have I received and it becomes a very cognitive undertaking devoid of emotion and then devoid also the rest of the body, you know? And I don’t think we were going to maximize the benefits of it by limiting it in those ways, right. We get buried in thought, in other words, right?
So activating the affective centers in the brain or other physiological responses are gonna be more beneficial because you’re gonna, because gratitude is about the entire person, right? It’s about the mind and the body as we saw today, it’s about the head and the heart, right? So neuro-cardiology looks at that. And so, yeah, so when we activate more of those different systems of the person we’re gonna have, I think have a better and deeper and ultimately a more transformative grateful experience.
And so it’s amazing, ‘cause people say that things that make them grateful not just keeping listen what they’re grateful for, in fact, that’s often not even in the top few, you know, they’ll talk about exercise, they’ll talk about yoga, that the expressions of gratitude just, you know, telling someone that you’re thankful because that’s using more of your, you know, more of yourself than just thinking privately about, you know, what you’re grateful for in terms of like a mental list. So I think the more we can activate different channels, different both experience and expressions of gratitude is gonna have a much deeper impact and a much more lasting effect.
And I’ve written a lot about how, you know, we get buried in this kind of to-do list version of gratitude which I think is actually very counterproductive, okay. It almost becomes like a burden, you know, it’s like one more thing to do on an already busy list. Okay, well, I gotta, you know, I got to get the kids to school or I gotta, you know homeschool the kids, you know, I gotta make dinner, I got to go to work, I got to keep a gratitude journal. So you just check it off and it becomes very unpleasant. It becomes a burden whereas if you can integrate it more into everyday practices, right?
So I mean and I think that’s what you do, right? You start in the morning and you do it again in the evening. I mean, virtually any opportunity, anything you do during the day can be a pause and a cause for gratitude. And I think ultimately that’s what’s gonna make it more effective and more pleasant to engage in than something which is aversive, I like to cross things off the list, you know. I don’t feel great, I just feel like a sense of relief, you know, so gratitude should be more about than relief you know, it should be something that increases our joy not just makes us feel less bad once we’re able to do it. I agree.

When making something a habit, we risk making it feel like a chore. Using tips and research insights, gratitude can become a more meaningful and natural part of our lives.

In another segment from his seminar, Robert E. Emmons, a premier gratitude researcher from the University of California, Davis, talks about how gratitude might first feel like something we are crossing off our list.

Dr. Emmons encourages us to see gratitude as a choice we can make. Does it feel this way to you? What might get in the way of this choice?
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Practicing Gratitude Teach-Out

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