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Incorporating Gratitude into our Lives

If the phrase “Attitude of Gratitude” makes you want to run for the hills where no self-help literature is available…we get it.

As another topic that’s been oversimplified and spread via pop psychology, gratitude has become rather polarizing. At one end of the pole, we have the people who tell us that gratitude will solve all our problems; at the other end, we have the people who tell us that gratitude will cause us to avoid all our problems. But what if there could be a beautiful luscious gray area that doesn’t split into all or nothing? What a concept! Yes!

Cheesy or not, it is true that something in our minds and hearts shift when we come into contact with what we are grateful for. However, it is also true that hyper-focusing on any one experience, gratitude included, can cause us to avoid, or even disconnect from, our other experiences. Thus, here at The Holding Space, we encourage people to find a middle ground with gratitude.

Finding that middle ground starts with understanding what gratitude is (and is not).

Gratitude is a state of appreciation or thankfulness for something perceived as positive or “good.” It can be experienced as a feeling, like feeling appreciative that the sun came out today, or an action, like saying “thank you” after someone helps us out. Because of this, gratitude serves as both a grounding method for ourselves and a connector to others and the world around us. When we tap into the feeling of gratitude, we are also tapping into our other present feelings and experiences, thus grounding us in the present moment. When we allow ourselves to act from a place of gratitude, we treat others (and ourselves) with kindness, fostering connection and community.

If we choose to treat it as such, gratitude is also a practice: something that we purposefully and regularly perform. Each person’s gratitude practice will look different—they could involve journal prompts, mantras, art activities, etc. What is common among practices, though, is that they focus on gratitude and are performed consistently—daily, weekly, etc. It is through the practice of gratitude that we gain the most pervasive and enduring benefits, as it causes us to slow down and allow the good—the little things, the big things, the dream things—from the world of chaos in which we live to come in.

What gratitude is NOT is a cure for our problems and/or pain. Rather than simply removing our pain, gratitude challenges us to make space for pain and pleasure to coexist within us. We are multiparted beings.. so whether we like it or not, we are a holding space for all of the differing parts within us. A neighborhood of various characters, if you will. Can we carry fear and hope at the same time? Anger and gratitude? It truly is a balancing act to keep our heads in a reality where we are fed a steady stream of fear and negativity, while also remaining in hope and gratitude. But when we no longer keep these feelings split apart, we are in the space to create change in ourselves AND in the collective.

Cultivating a gratitude practice that feels balanced and fitting for your life can be difficult at first, but much like anything that we incorporate into our lives that is new, it starts to get easier the more we utilize it until it becomes our norm. You don’t have to figure this all out on your own either, we are here to help! Reach out to us here at The Holding Space to see how we can support you:

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