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Beyond the Conjunction

Gratitude/Guilt

 

There are few things more invigorating than fall. The change of seasons, the crisp coolness in the air, all things dying… who wouldn’t love it?

ONLY THE PEOPLE TRYING TO KILL IT WITH PUMPKIN SPICE BONE BROTH.

pumpkinspicebonebroth.jpg

GROSS. BLECH. NOT EVER REDEEMABLE EVEN IN PUMPKIN CURRY.

Don’t buy it here, now or ever.

But on to meatier topics. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) After we recorded, I was thinking about our discussion and I realized that gratitude and guilt are two different ways of responding to the inevitable imbalances, unfairness, and inequalities in life and in our relationships. Because life is guaranteed to be unequal, these emotions are inevitable. Sometimes guilt may be the more appropriate, but I think there is something to be said for trying to put on gratitude as much as we can, where and when it is appropriate.

This is a perfect week to practice gratitude, to practice the mindfulness of gratefulness instead of the potential poison of unchecked guilt. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the parts of the brain that light up when we report feeling grateful are the same areas that light up when we experience personal connection and pleasure. (Source) Gratitude is not just a way to acknowledge the reality of the good things in our lives and give us a touch of perspective, but it is pleasant to us. It feels good. And frankly? We deserve to feel good mentally. This world is fraught and chaotic, and practicing a little bit of self care through intentional gratitude is a beautiful, no-cost, non-egotistical way to brighten your life and the lives of those around you.

Here are some ways to practice gratitude, not just on the day of Giving Thanks, but every day.

  1. Take five minutes at the beginning of every day to think about what you are already grateful for. This will put you in a grateful mindset and hopefully set the tone for a more open, relaxed, calm, happy day.

  2. Start a gratitude journal. As Diane said, this practice has been demonstrated to enhance well-being. To end your day on a grateful note, take five minutes to write down something in your day that you are grateful for. Writing it down is a good way to cement the gratitude in your memory, to carry you through the week.

  3. Tell someone you are grateful for them and why. Gratitude is a wonderful way to strengthen our relationships. People need to feel valued, and telling people that you are grateful for them (and why! be specific!) is a perfect way to communicate to them their value to you while also boosting your mental energy.

  4. Focus on your senses. This website has great suggestions for how to connect with your body and pay attention to the positive ways your body is responding to your environment. Since there are many things about our environment we can’t control, this can be a very good coping mechanism.

  5. Get meta. During one of your gratitude practices, focus some attention on what it is like. What thoughts pop into your mind? What feelings and emotions do you discover? Learning to identify how gratitude affects you will give you motivation to continue the practice, and help you become more in tune with your body.

I have to say — talking and writing about gratitude have made me realize how much I need to take my own advice. Life’s been a bit of a struggle recently, and while practicing gratitude will never fix the problems, it will help me cling to a little bit of hope and give my taxed little anxious brain a bit of a spa day. So I am going to practice all of the above this week. I hope you will join me.

Diane and I wish you all a wonderful, warm, tasty Thanksgiving, full of felt and received gratitude. We are grateful for you, our listeners, and are excited to inject some more thoughtfulness into the holiday season with you over the next month and a half.

And to show our gratitude to you, here is Tom Hanks as he was always meant to be: in a tweener pop music video. Lurv.

 
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