One recent evening I saw a little girl leaving her apartment building with her mom. She stepped outside, looked at the sky and shouted, “The moon! The moon! Mama, I can see the moon! I love it!”
I was moved by her excitement at such a simple moment. It reminded me that gratitude is not complicated- we have a moving experience, and it triggers a profound joy. The beauty of gratitude is a cycle- the more we feel it, the more our hearts open, and with our hearts open we can be moved by those simple moments.
At the close of the year, we forget to keep it simple. Between party hopping and hunting down the perfect gift, we end up rushing around, stressing out and overtaxing our bodies and wallets. Topped off with a sugar crash or a hang-over, and we are left feeling lethargic, tired, and depressed.
It’s the spirit of generosity and gratitude that can make this time of year so special. This holiday season I offer you these simple practices to cultivate presence and gratitude. May these practices help you connect to yourself, stay open to others, and find moments of peace and gratitude throughout the holiday season.
1. Pause, wherever you are. Take a few deep breaths.
2. Close your eyes, noticing the sensation and movement of the breath as it moves in and out of your body.
3. Place a hand on your heart. Notice the warmth and weight of your own hand. Breathe deeply and calmly.
4. Remember someone who has been kind to you in the recent past. Picture their face or their eyes when they smile. Thank that person in the quiet of your heart for their gift of kindness. Keep it simple, but be specific. For example, “Thank you, Jen for making the time to listen to me yesterday when I needed to talk,” or “Thank you, stranger for holding the door open for me.”
5. Notice what’s in front of you. It might be a thoughtfully prepared meal, strangers on a train, or a pile of dishes in the sink. You don’t have to like it, just notice.
6. Be generous. Giving feels good.
7. When in doubt, look up at the moon in wonder.