It's Fall again and I have been loving my walks in the trails watching the leaves turn pretty colours, making homemade apple crumble served warm with vanilla ice cream, and savouring pumpkin spice lattes. September always brings a feeling of vibrant energy, of potentials yet to be discovered. In October, I embrace thanksgiving for the feeling of abundance, of giving thanks for what we already have. The photo above is on my living room wall, a daily reminder that where we choose to focus, whether it is on what is going well in our lives or what is not going well in our lives, will make the difference in whether we are happy or not!
I have a daily gratitude practice in the mornings where I think of at least 3 things I was grateful for the prior day. It helps focus my mind on my strengths rather than what is still in development, so I can feel good as I start the day and be less reactive should more challenging or unexpected events arise. During thanksgiving, I like to do a more detailed practice of journalling all the things I am grateful for in life, the goals I have achieved, the people who have helped and taught me the most, the things I am most proud of, positive feedback others have given me about my impact in their lives, and all the things I am able to do and have in my life that make me happy and comfortable.
It is equally as important to give thanks for people who did not have good intentions towards me, and difficult situations I had to endure. Because of these people and situations I was able to develop my strength, wisdom and resilience. In my experience, it has often been true that what seemed like disadvantages and setbacks really were blessings in disguise. I am thankful for many times I was able to discover someone's true intentions before it was too late, or have plans that did not work out because I did get something better every time. I am thankful for the law of karma, which allows me to live my life in peace when people act with ignorance, malice and no accountability. I marvel at the depth of intelligence and record keeping in the universe, knowing it is not my job to ensure justice is served but rather everyone will get exactly what is coming to them in due time regardless of however much power and privilege they may have.
If you prefer, you can choose to do this exercise as a conversation with a friend instead of or in addition to the journalling. I also listen to affirmations focused on gratitude and say them out loud; this assists in training my mind to seek the positive rather than the negative.
I remember seeing a video on social media of a drinking glass with dirt in it. The lady was explaining that the dirt represents the negativity in our lives. She tried removing the dirt herself but it was difficult to remove every speck. Then she poured in water, and easily and effortlessly, all the dirt was completely removed as the dirt was swept up by the water and then poured out, leaving a clean glass. The water represents positivity, with the lesson being that the most effective way to reduce the negativity in our lives is to intentionally incorporate more positivity. Rather than dwelling on what is wrong and giving it more power in your mind, focusing on what is going well will energize and uplift. The ratio of positive to negative things in your life will keep increasing. This does not mean that you suppress negative thoughts and emotions, for you must process them openly in order to heal, but that it does not take over your life with excess attention.
I am very thankful to all my clients who allow me to live out my childhood dream of having a private psychotherapy practice, without the need to work for someone else. Engaging in long term psychotherapy as a psychotherapist is one thing that makes me feel alive and that I am living my life on purpose. What are you thankful for this thanksgiving? Let me know in the comments below.
Here are a few videos that help me feel in the mood of thanksgiving, many of these I listen to on the full moon (there is a full moon tonight). The fullness of the moon symbolically relates to gratitude and abundance, I use it to let go of who and what no longer serves me and give thanks for the blessings that are in my life and blessings on their way to me to replace what I let go of. Wishing my readers a happy listening!
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