For This I Am Grateful, Jennifer Llamas, Youth and Family Ministry Director
“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” — Ralph H. Blum.
Have you ever had a day – or maybe even a week, a season – when gratitude felt elusive; like the fluttering butterfly that keeps catching your eye but won’t settle on your hand? As students of Unity Principles and teachings, many of us strive for that sweet spot of living life in an awareness of our abundance. These thoughts come to the forefront during the holidays when, ironically, we also tend to become overscheduled and worn out. So how shall we live when life’s waves start to swell and roll?
It is in these moments that we learn to embrace surrender, that we open ourselves to the realization that life will unfold as life does, and our peace is tied not to our external circumstances or outcomes but instead to our perspective. Quite literally, when we take time to breathe in the abundance of our natural world, to appreciate the oxygen that surrounds us, the gravity that grounds us, the solid earth that supports us – we provide a safe refuge for our body and mind.
In addition, we have spiritual inquiry to help assist us on the path of surrender, where we can train ourselves, as souls housed inside bodies, to practice gratitude in each moment that comes our way and to know that living in gratitude does not mean we face fewer challenges. It does, however, affect how we approach life in its bounty and its provocation.
What can this look like in real life – or as the kids say IRL (use that next time you’re texting with anyone under the age of 25; they’ll be impressed). Here are a couple helpful “life hacks” when dealing with disappointment, discouragement, or just an old-fashioned bad day:
- Stop. Literally, just stop. Get quiet, take a breath. Allow your nervous system to rest. Feel your heart rate slow, your breath become more even. If you are able, continue this for at least 5 minutes, although even a couple minutes can help. Congratulations, you have just convinced your nervous system that there is no crisis that requires it to be on full alert. You may have also accidentally worked in a meditation moment!
- If caught in a moment that you are feeling guilty about *not* appreciating something, try this: simply say, “I wish I were more grateful for (fill in the blank)”. Do this as many times throughout the day as necessary. You are now, repeatedly, associating the word “grateful” with the experience or item you wish to be more thankful for, and your subconscious is listening!
Above all, as you are striving to find and express gratitude, remember to be kind to yourself. Remember to appreciate your amazing life essence. Consider that life is not happening to you; it is happening for you. Be loved, be blessed. Happy Thanksgiving from your Youth Ministry children, teens, and volunteers. We love you!