Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mindfulness and Gratitude

I had pumpkin pie for breakfast. For me, I don’t need to look for anything more to prove that I’m living the good life.

It’s natural to go through life thinking about problems and obstacles, and that’s part of the reason we in the United States have set aside today as a day to focus on things we can be thankful for. There are always plenty of good and bad things in life, and it’s important to be able to shift your focus from one to the other.

For example, after you’ve identified a problem you want to solve (something bad) you need to shift your focus to your ability to take action (which is something good). That way you can solve the problem. Otherwise, you just have the problem, which isn’t nearly as good.

Gratitude is a matter of focusing on things you can feel good about, but it isn’t just a feel-good exercise. It helps connect you to the possibilities in life. Gratitude is easy if you can develop the habit of mindfulness, of generally noticing what is going on around you. There are always good things around us, but we rush past them to get to wherever we are going. A holiday, when we don’t have to rush (well, at least that’s the theory), is the perfect time to practice mindfulness, and when you notice how many good things there are, that naturally leads into gratitude.

So when you get some pumpkin pie today, or anything else that’s good, don’t just rush past it. Notice it. See how many good things you can notice before the day is over. And see if noticing all those good things doesn’t put you in a state in which you notice more things you can do.