Gratitude is a helpful tool to lean into that can impact our ability to experience joy and be in the present moment.
I talked about the influence of gratitude in this post, where I explain what implementing gratitude can look like for you.
But, I didn’t necessarily explain why gratitude works. Thankfully, Cory Allen shared a beautiful explanation that does just that.
Focusing on gratitude shifts our perspective. It brings us closer to the richness of the present moment and helps us release our attachments to how we feel things should be, so that we can deeply embrace the profound nature of what already is.
I find that when I’m stuck in emotions that are lingering far longer than they should, I’m rarely in the present moment. I’m either ruminating on the past or anxious and worrying about the future. But, gratitude helps ground us back in the richness of the present. And what I particularly love about Cory’s phrasing here is that it points out that the present is enough. Whereas my anger, anxiety, fear, disappointment and other emotions may try to convince me that going back to the past or forward to the future is most beneficial, gratitude reminds me that being here in the present is the only place I need to be.
When Cory talks about how gratitude helps release us from how we feel things should be, it reminds me of my post about childlike emotions. Here I discuss Rick Rubin explaining how kids have a superpower in how they are so grounded in the moment. It’s in part because they aren’t wrapped up in story like adults are, so they can just feel what they want to feel. Cory adds to that by pointing out that oftentimes, for adults, our stories create either known or unknown expectations for how things should be. And because of those expectations, we miss out on the richness of the present moment.
And when we miss out, we miss out on the profound nature of what already is. I can’t think of a moment that I have leaned into gratitude or mindfulness to bring me back to the present and regretted it. Rather, I’m consistently grateful that I became fully present to see the beauty and profoundness that is right in front of me.
Gratitude has profound impacts, and thanks to Cory, he helps us understand why. If there is a practice I recommend you try throughout the month of August, gratitude would be it.
Whether it’s a written list, verbally saying it, depicting it in art or some other way that suits you, I encourage you to find a practice to lean into and allow yourself to experience the richness gratitude provides.
Kylie Larson, MA, LPC