5 Mindful Steps to a More Grateful (and Happy) Life

Elisha Goldstein shares a short gratitude practice from his forthcoming book, Uncovering Happiness. 

There is no better moment than now while reading these words to consider what you are thankful for. In fact, there is actually no other moment than now.

The poet Hafiz writes in his poem “It Felt Love”:

How did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
All its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light
Against its being,
We all remain
Too frightened

This is so true. It becomes easier to open up and reveal our own gifts to this world when we feel positive loving encouragement within. While for some the holidays are a time of connection and being with family and friends, for others it’s a source of stress only reinforcing a sense of loneliness and difficulty.

Nevertheless, here is an opportunity to do a practice inspired by this poem that can help us cultivate a sense of gratitude and lovingkindness during this time.

Here is short practice from Uncovering Happiness to feel that “encouragement of light” during this time:

1. Think of a person or animal who represents a loving and kind presence in your life. This can be a good friend who is alive, maybe someone who has passed away, a pet, or maybe a spiritual figure.

2. Take a moment to imagine that presence here, with you, looking into your eyes.

3. Now imagine that person saying to you, “May you be safe and protected from inner and outer harm,” “May you be happy,” “May you be free from fear,” “May you be healthy in body and mind.” You can also create your own wishes and aspirations here.

4. Now turn toward that person and say that with the same intention to them.

5. Now imagine your family and friends with you (those who you feel difficulty with and those who you feel more ease with) and with intention, saying those same words.

Take a moment to actually do this practice if you only read the words…then just feel into how you are doing and whatever is there, just letting it be.

We all know that the holiday season is just a reminder to cultivate gratitude in our lives. May this be a springboard for you to cultivate this sense of gratitude and lovingkindness, which even though it may come with some uncomfortable feelings at times, can be a source of much psychological healing and feelings of well-being.

[Photograph by Toshimasa Ishibashi]

Adapted from Mindfulness & Psychotherapy