It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Paige Davis. Paige and I have connected through some of our shared life experiences. Both of us believe that through any struggle, a heavy dose of gratitude can certainly bring hope and comfort. I hope you enjoy her message of gratitude.
As a cancer survivor, wellness enthusiast, and meditation teacher, I have witnessed first hand how mindfulness and meditation can help us cope in moments of crisis and embrace moments of bliss. I like to think of mindfulness as a muscle that we flex through meditation as a way to be more present in our lives, to respond with more patience, calm and compassion. Similarly, I like to think of gratitude as a muscle, and when we take conscious moments to acknowledge and express it, we strengthen its presence in our lives. Both mindfulness and gratitude naturally help us to cultivate present moment awareness that can serve as a stabilizing force when so much is out of our control
While it seems counter-intuitive, it is often the challenging times in our life that can serve as the most transformational opportunities to practice gratitude. Just like our bicep needs resistance to get stronger, our ability to be grateful in times of adversity helps to create a strengthening against this psychological resistance so we ultimately can be more resilient. Well known gratitude researcher Robert Emmons explains how gratitude can be helpful in moments of crisis:
“Gratitude maximizes happiness in multiple ways, and one reason is that it helps us reframe memories of unpleasant events in a way that decreases their unpleasant emotional impact. This implies that grateful coping entails looking for positive consequences of negative events. For example, grateful coping might involve seeing how a stressful event has shaped who we are today and has prompted us to reevaluate what is really important in life.”
One of the primary things I heard from friends and loved ones as I went through my cancer journey was how positive I was being. But I was always very confused by this statement, because I was very aware of the hardship and challenges I faced on a daily basis. And then I realized it wasn’t about being positive in some pollyanna kind of way, it was about being present. And it is through this present moment awareness that I was naturally able to experience gratitude in so many different ways. Being grateful for the generosity of support I received from friends and loved ones. Being grateful for my body’s capacity to heal and recover after the many surgeries and treatments. And being grateful for the gentleness and resilience that rest and stillness can provide.
While it is obvious that I was physically transformed throughout my journey, it was this force of gratitude that has forever shifted the lens through which I live my life.
Below are a few simple steps that alone or together can serve as a great daily practice. Try one or all and experience the goodness a little gratitude can bring.
- Morning: Wake up and say thank you.Try to let the first thought in the morning be about gratitude and literally thinking silently or saying out loud “thank you.” It doesn’t have to be about anything specific (but it can be), but by just opening your day with this sentiment, you invite gratitude in for the rest of the day.
- Mid-Day: Practice random acts of kindness.This can be something simple like letting someone in during traffic or the popular act of buying a cup of coffee for the next person in line. Or putting a post it note on your loved one or co-worker’s space letting them know they are loved or valued. Sure you can do the grander gestures, but just check in to make sure you are coming from a simple place of giving and not looking for recognition (seeking validation is a good sign that our good ole’ ego is at work).
- Evening: Keep a gratitude log.This is a great evening activity to either keep on your phone or simply write down 3 things you are grateful for in your day. I like to think of one thing I am grateful for about a loved one, one thing about someone I may be experiencing a challenging time with, and one thing for myself.
Bonus: Practice a lovingkindness meditation. Practicing lovingkindness can be a powerful practice that not only makes us feel good, but can also help us see the bigger picture and increase our social connectedness. It is a simple practice where you repeat a series of loving phrases. Enjoy an 12 minute guided lovingkindess meditation here: http://soulsparks.com/guided-meditation-lovingkindness-with-music/
Paige Davis is an entrepreneur, writer, cancer survivor, and meditation teacher. She is founder of Soul Sparks where she leads and facilitates meditation and mindfulness programming for companies, teams, and individuals looking to integrate meditation and mindfulness into their busy lives. Paige is also co-founder of social impact brand, BlueAvocado. With international distribution, BlueAvocado products invite people to live a greener, simpler and ultimately a more mindful life. Paige understands first-hand the impact of stress in the workplace and has created mindfulness programs that will bring more patience, productivity, and positivity. Paige is a contributing writer for The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, and Ozy. Learn more here: http://soulsparks.com