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Attitude, Gratitude, Happiness and our Well Being

Attitude, Gratitude, Happiness and our Well Being

Welcome to the Holiday Season from all of us at evolv!

The Thanksgiving through Christmas Holiday season has always been my favorite time of year for many reasons.  Growing up in a large Italian family in the 60’s meant lots of family traditions, celebration, anticipation and best of all…..Rosie’s (my Mom) food!

This is a time of year that just about everyone can appreciate.  Who among us wouldn’t benefit from a little more gratitude in their lives?  A little less taken for granted; a little more time to stop and smell the roses.  Even though this season can be the ‘best of times’ for many, it can also be one of the most stressful and challenging as well.

Evolutionary scientists believe there may be a negativity bias built in to the human brain……it’s easier to survive threats and danger if you are constantly on guard, suspicious or worried.  Unfortunately, it just may be a human nature survival instinct to dwell too much on what’s wrong rather than appreciate what’s right.  Have you ever noticed that after you’ve had a backache, you are grateful when it goes away?  But how many of us woke up this morning and were thankful for not having a backache?

Science has also taught us that chronic stress, anxiety and worry can also make us physically ill and shorten our lives.  Conversely, studies also prove that the practice of developing a more positive attitude, and being grateful and appreciative, can also improve our health, well-being and longevity.

What if this year we could truly take stock of the good and get some balance to correct the bias of negativity that is hardwired into our ‘survival human brains?’  What if we could find an ‘attitude of gratitude?’  Here are three suggestions on how to do it:

1) ‘Accounting of the Soul’ 

In his ‘Nightly Gratitude Meditation,’ Jeff Warren recommends that every evening we just think of a single thing or event from the day that was good or positive in our life.  It’s not complicated or difficult…..just a single thing that matters and is positive.  You could appreciate someone in your family, a friend, your work, your health, anything…..there’s a lot of good out there if only you could just stop for a moment and listen.

2) Share your Feelings

This season provides a great opportunity to open up and share your feelings.  Feelings and emotions are a very powerful force in our lives, and sharing them with family or friends can reduce stress and be a very healthy mental exercise.  Just letting those you work or live with know how much you appreciate them can bring happiness and peace of mind not only to others, but also to ourselves.

3) Consider the Present Moment and Then Let Go

The realization and acceptance that nearly all worry and anxiety and tension are rooted in thoughts of the past or future is the basis of meditation practice. Perhaps that is why meditation philosophy focuses on releasing all of the constant ‘chatter’ in our heads, to let go of worries of the future or thoughts of the past, and just sit back and observe the moment,  just hang out.

The spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle said ‘turn your entire attention to the now, and tell me what your problem is.’  This may sound naive, impractical or unrealistic because the ‘present moment’ is not the whole story and we do indeed have problems in this world.  But although it may take a little effort and consistency, it is possible to stop for a moment, to practice mindfulness, and learn how to let go of thoughts of the past or future, just for a moment, to rest.

I can personally support the benefits of this practice.  I lost my mother of 98 years after a wonderful, lifelong relationship, earlier this year. Rosie was a selfless and special woman who touched so many lives.  As I sat at her bedside overwhelmed with thoughts of sadness and worry and struggle, I found a moment when I just let it all go.  And then I noticed the snow softly falling on the trees, there was a beauty in her face, there was love all around, there was continuity….and that is when I found peace, with all of it.

Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season are a once a year opportunity for ‘gratitude practice.’  And it is that ‘attitude of gratitude’ that can provide a wonderful possibility to be ‘calm in your heart’ and to find peace….right there in the midst of all the anxiety, noise and trouble of a crazy and beautiful life!

All of us at evolv are thankful and appreciate you and the belief and trust that you have placed in us for you care.

Happy Holidays and Blessings to all of you and your families!

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