GRATITUDE

Be Well Be Happy
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During this time of year, we think about giving thanks. It is a great time to appreciate what we have in our lives: families, friends, pets, comforts, joys. Perhaps we make a toast at our Thanksgiving meal. It is a great reminder to put aside all that is not positive in our lives and to be grateful. 

Being grateful 365 days a year is a beneficial tool to cultivate contentment in our lives.  There are actually scientific studies to back this up. If you are one to experiment and take your own study to see if something is real or not, then put it into practice, that is great. If you need evidence, here it is:

“Feelings of gratitude activate the part of the brain that produces dopamine, a messenger molecule that stimulates your brain’s reward and pleasure center. . .”

“One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin.” The Upward Spiral: Using Neuro-Science to Reverse the Course of Depression - Alex Korb  (Serotonin: a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness)

The fact that practicing gratitude gives an overall feeling of well-being and contentment is proof in the pudding. Scientists seek answers and do find them as noted above, answering the “why.” The key to it is to practice a sustained practice of gratitude. We sometimes do it for a couple of days here and there—that is good in itself, but sustained practice brings a sustained result—a change in how we feel.

I do make it a practice every day to be grateful for all of my comforts—clean water, hot shower, comfortable, warm bed, good food, the love in my heart, my health. I say it to myself when I’m taking a shower or eating or when I go to bed. I periodically contemplate my work, my yoga teachings and say to myself what I am grateful for in these parts of my life. I have an inner dialogue to say the words so that they become part of me. So one way to arrive at contentment is to practice gratitude daily accepting and appreciating what we have and who we are at the present moment. 

In our yoga practice, we mostly experience asana (poses), pranayama (breath practice) and meditation, and we contemplate and put into practice some of the “eight limbs of yoga.” The second of the “nimayas” is “santosha” —contentment. A sustained practice of gratitude leads to sustained contentment. A sustained practice of contentment leaves us better equipped to deal with something that causes displeasure or dissatisfaction or unhappiness or pain or anything really unpleasant.

Make it a practice every day: in the morning, in the evening and throughout the day!

I am grateful for this beautiful place we live and wonderful community! Happy Thanksgiving!

May you be happy. May you be free. May you be grateful. May you be compassionate. May you let go of things that do not serve you. May you have inner peace. 

By Paulette Mancuso

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