Cultivating Gratitude || Bridget Blasius

Cultivating Gratitude

By Bridget Blasius

Retrieved from People House Newsletter


As we enter the harvest season, we find ourselves surrounded by reminders to be grateful for the blessings we have in life.  While many of us hold gratitude as an ideal, the pressure of Holiday preparations can leave us feeling overwhelmed.  This can make it difficult to actually enjoy our celebrations.  Sometimes, it seems like the autumn holidays can speed by before we know it.  When we don’t take time to pause, reflect and breathe, we can easily forget what it is that we are supposed to be celebrating!

Some may be wondering how they can pause when there is so much to do.   This is totally understandable.   We are often taught that taking time for self-care is selfish or irresponsible.  This is far from being the case.  When we take care of ourselves, we develop more resiliency to be present for those we love.

Autumn is a season full of rich, sensual pleasures.  How much do we take them in?  To cultivate grateful presence, start by taking a contemplative walk.  Do it slowly.  Notice the blessings offered by nature in the moment.  Feel the crisp winds, and notice the brilliant colors.  Smell the rich earth, as the leaves decay and provide compost for next year’s growth.  Nature is in a constant process of renewal, and so are we.  Every breath is an opportunity to notice the beauty around us.

When was the last time you took home a brilliantly colored leaf, and pressed it in a book?  Small natural objects can provide reminders to stop and reflect.  Consider incorporating leaves into a collage or other form of artwork.  Try doing this with children.  Enjoy their laughter and innocence.  Teach them to never lose sight of this.

Offer service to those around you, but do it joyfully.  If you notice yourself feeling fatigued or anxious, give yourself a break.  Be sure to offer appreciation to yourself for the good work you may be  doing.  It is easier to appreciate others when you realize that you, too, are worthy of love.

Tell yourself this:  It is OK just to be.  Sometimes, we need to do absolutely nothing.  Try sitting on the porch with a warm blanket and a cup of hot tea.  Take a nice, long bath.  As you feel the warm water, take the opportunity to be grateful for your indoor plumbing.  There are so many things that we take for granted.  We may worry that things will not turn out the way we want, in life, yet there are so many things about our lives that are right.  Let us not lose sight of this.

At the same time, let us not dismiss any sufferings we have endured.  Let us offer gratitude to ourselves for our own strength, in getting through them, and gratitude for our loved ones who have supported us along the way.   Send out the intention that all who are suffering may have the same support.  As you do this, you may notice a greater openness, warmth and generosity within yourself.

This is the very soul of autumn, the spirit that inspires our holiday celebrations, which create the memories that keep us warm through the months ahead.  Let us light candles and welcome that spirit into our homes, as we welcome our relatives and friends.  When we truly cultivate this awareness, it ceases to matter whether our pumpkin pies are perfect.  We stop caring whether our houses are totally clean.  Perfection is not what people will remember, about our holiday gatherings.  They will remember love and laughter, which we can only cultivate through presence.  So, let’s take time to be present with ourselves, so that we can be present for those who matter most.

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth