Anything I want to be better at – piano, guitar, singing, songwriting, cooking, birding, gratitude, mindfulness – requires practice.
I’m slowly getting better at birding. I was so excited to spot this big flock of bohemian waxwings on Thanksgiving Day up in Gorham, NH!
I’m getting pretty good at gratitude, too.
My gratitude practice used to be this: at the end of the day before bed, I’d write down a few things for which I was grateful that day on each page of a 4ishx3ish composition notebook. One little page per day.
Over time, the daily exercise moved from pencil and paper to simply contemplating these things before turning in for the night.
After years of practice, I find that, no matter how sour my mood, I can almost instantly tap into a feeling of gratitude for even the smallest thing, like, ‘I’m grateful that I’m wearing my favorite socks right now.’
I think of any skill as a delicious gravy, and my brain is the biscuit into which it is (hopefully) settling and improving.
Many of us gathered this past week around food and connection to family – and perhaps the sharing of their gratitude – on a day that is set aside for these things. Then, many of us got swept up the very next morning – with Thanksgiving dinner still in the belly – in the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, spending money on things, looking for deals, perhaps pushing past others to get this or that for this person or that person.
Many of us have gotten a lot of practice being consumers in our lives. And many of us are ‘good’ at it.
I wonder – does the skill of being a ‘good shopper’ lead to a more satisfying life? That’s a question we can each quietly ask ourselves, and then listen carefully for the answer.
I also wonder – wouldn’t it be amazing if we could, as a culture, move away from these practices of acquiring stuff and instead creating and sharing more meaningful experiences? To bring more reflective practices into every day, week, month, year, moment of our lives? To cultivate more gratitude, more sit-down meals with loved ones, more connection to one another and to our experience in each moment?
Let that gravy sink in.