09 Dec 2021 By: Colin Kirts
Forward: by HelpSquad
It’s been a long, crazy, unpredictable year, but we all made it through! As the year comes to a close, that’s got us thinking a lot about the things we’re grateful for. We thought our customers and our blog readers might be feeling the same way. So, without further ado, from Colin Kirts, co-founder of KORU Real Wellness education center, we give you, “The Mechanics of Gratitude.”
Remember back in late September and into early October, when the weather was basically perfect? Blue skies. Crisp, fall, air. Picturesque sunshine. Mid-60s, and comfortably into the 50s at night…
Most importantly, though, no humidity.
It was idyllic, and it lasted for over two weeks. You may recall a bit of gleeful sweater weather talk. It was apparently even the kind of weather that has inspired some people to move here from Florida. Who’d of thunk!
I could be absolutely projecting here, but it seemed like people were fundamentally happier during that time. In fact, as the title here may indicate to you, we all seemed a bit more grateful.
Paying attention to the weather can be a bit passé, yes, and, we all do it. For good reason! It’s critical for literally every aspect of our lives, a jarring realization many of us recently have been enduring since Hurricane Ida, to say the least.
Of course, though, it doesn’t last. Eventually, the storm always ends. Isn’t that the cliché, though? Whatever it is, it’s going to change. For better or worse, there’s a process.
My friend Joe and I were just reflecting on this near the end of those two weeks. Eventually, it became humid again, but for a time we were both like kids in a candy shop. Honestly, who really likes humidity? It’s like not wanting pizza. Really? Suspicious. Anyway, what Joe mentioned during our chat is that he’s been working on developing a low threshold for gratitude. In other words, he’s intentionally practicing being grateful for, well, anything.
And he’s good at it! Again, though, a cliché. Gratitude IS an attitude. It is, ultimately, a choice. To Joe’s point, though, It requires consistent effort, and practice. We can develop it, such that we are mostly able to be grateful.
Is it easy to develop this attitude? Should we always have it? No, and, again, no. That would be absurd. This is not a pollyanna prescription, or, to be blunt, a new-agey formula. Maybe we can find the silver lining, but I am not suggesting anyone force gratitude.
A friend of mine’s wife just died. They spent 46 years together. 46 years! Now, she’s dead. He’s 70. She was his life. “It feels like half of my soul has been ripped apart,” he says; “The evening’s are the hardest.”
Some of you may have literally lost homes and/or businesses just over a month ago. Some people are still sick twenty years later from 9/11. Hell, let’s not forget, the last 18 months have been unbelievably difficult for many people.
Should you be grateful? Should they? Should we? No.
And, we can. You can. He can. Yes, both are possible. How many people do you know who have literally found a renewed sense of being alive after something earth shattering? I know someone right now who has been been living with breast cancer for over 3 years, and I think she would agree that she is more awake and grateful than ever.
Yah, it isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t effortless, but it is possible, and, it is absolutely necessary. It’s kind of like a catch-all trick to keep us functioning, and focused on what’s possible. On what we have before us. Our health, our bodies.
If it’s both possible and necessary, and we don’t want to wait for tragedy to strike, how do we make it easier for ourselves? And for each other? How do we both create and sustain gratitude?
Well, I’m glad you’ve asked! Perhaps there are some mechanics of gratitude we can discern, such as…
1: Stop and Breathe
Yup, this is going to be that kind of a list. Mundane. Earthly. Why? Because it’s what’s universal. It’s what we all share, constantly. It’s what we all rely upon, and, come back to. In short, it’s what works!
What’s the one thing we always need, all of us? Air! Call it meditation, or the art of doing nothing, or allowing yourself to breathe, the significance cannot be understated. Simply prioritize being aware of your breath.
Mostly, learn to breathe deeply, and through your nose. Nasal breathing is key for a few reasons; suffice to say, for now, just breathe.
2: Observe Nature
Yes, breathe and observe. Nature with a capital “N” refers to that which is constant. Nature has a rhythm. A pace. An implicit interconnectivity.
We are no different. There’s no negating our connection to Nature.
The strangest thing about us humans is, arguably, how we seem to just forget this. If you have a pet, especially a dog, you probably would agree with these two observations: they are really good at doing nothing, and, they are really grateful for you. There’s a correlation, I assure you. We can learn a thing or two.
There also probably really good at moving, hence…
3: Embrace Growth
In my work, I get to spend time with people of all ages, and I have never met someone who is fully cooked. In other words, they are not finished.
Their capacity to enjoy life goes hand-in-hand with whether or not they embrace learning. In other words, they are more able to experience gratitude because they are willing to grow. It’s one of the strangest myths we seem embrace, that we can ever reach a final destination.
Again, Nature embodies the inevitability of change, of movement, and of showing us something new. As such, you may also want to…
4: Express Yourself
Creativity is not just a nice thing some people have. It’s a biological imperative! Everything and everyone is innately creative! There’s no getting around it.
Intentionally being creative is the key, and, thankfully, there is no shortage of options for how to express yourself. In no uncertain terms, to do so is to engage in life, to take part in the revelation that is existence.
Is there a best way to do this? No. There are differences in value, but for the sake of cultivating gratitude, how about trying to…
5: Be Playful
Honestly, why not? A lot of what we do on a day-to-basis is just an organized game. Have fun with it! Make fun of it. The people who seem most able to consistently embody gratitude definitely take their efforts seriously, but not themselves.
In effect, it’s so easy for them to share what they’re feeling. It’s not theirs, it’s just a feeling, and, quite frankly, it strengthens as it’s shared. On that note, in fact, don’t just play, share whatever makes you thankful! Make it a communal experience. After all, what’s the fun of a game if you don’t have others to play with?
Perhaps with this relatively simple model, we can more easily be grateful. Maybe it is mechanical, and we just need to explore a bit more consistently. No matter what, whether or not gratitude flows through you with ease, you can embrace it more. You can learn to soak it in, like a nutrient, no different than air or water. Eventually, it’ll become like a collective game, of earning and sharing gratitude points…
No matter what, though, breathe.