In life’s busyness, it’s easy to overlook the daily opportunities we all have to express our gratitude.
According to Ayurveda, an attitude of gratitude is the fuel for grace.
When we are the recipient of a heartfelt gift or gesture, we typically express gratitude in the form of a “thank you.” The heart opening, warm and fuzzy feeling we get after expressing that gratitude is called grace. The feeling the person who gave you the gift feels after receiving your gratitude is also called grace.
Grace has been described as the “unmerited favor of God.” It’s a feeling of oneness, love, and expansion that you may not have earned, but spontaneously experience.
We often find ourselves surprised by grace, such as “the grace of God,” from a meditation or a prayer. You may get lucky and experience grace in response to something wonderful happening. Yes, grace may be an unearned spontaneous event, but it does not have to be elusive.
Gratitude and grace, according to Ayurveda, can be a way of life.
We can remind ourselves to be grateful for so many things that we often take for granted, or are too busy to stop and take note of—God, family, friends, food, nature, life, air, water, farmers, and our health are all easy to be grateful for. When we stop and fully express gratitude for such things, that gratitude can warm our hearts, and then we can spontaneously experience grace.
This feeling of grace can spawn more gratitude and, in turn, more grace. Soon, we’ll find ourselves paying it forward and focusing on what’s right rather than what is wrong with the world.
This holiday season, I want to introduce you to the “Seven Days of Grace.”
For seven days, I am going to ask you to express your gratitude for the following seven gifts we all have in our lives. Feel free to be grateful for anything else that inspires you.
Seven Days of Grace: Cultivating Gratitude.
Day one: family. Today, express your gratitude for your family members. Write them a letter, send them a message or an email, or give them a call. Hug them if you can. Tell them you love them and that you are grateful to have them. If possible, eat together as a family. Doing so has been shown to lower the risk of obesity and reduce the consumption of unhealthy food, binging, and compulsive eating.
Day two: friends. Let your friends know how much you appreciate them today. Centenarians teach us that having a community of supportive family and friends is a key to experiencing a long life. Studies suggest that people within a strong social community live longer than those who do not. When sick, the socially isolated were shown to be at 2.4 times greater risk of mortality.
Day three: water. Four billion people worldwide experience water scarcity. Fresh water scarcity is increasingly perceived as a global crisis. Two-thirds of the global population live under conditions of severe water scarcity. Clean, fresh water is getting harder and harder to source. How easy is it to be grateful to water while in the shower or throughout the day?
Day four: organic farmers. The costs for farmers to transition from conventional to organic farming is often prohibitive, but more and more farmers are taking the risk. We are so grateful for those farmers who have taken the risk and are now providing us with organic foods.
Day five: music. Music has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Studies link music to better sleep, sharper minds, less depression, heart health, and more. It’s easy to be grateful for music. Make time today (and every day) to listen to some beautiful music. While listening—feel the grace.
Day six: nature. Studies show that by just being in nature boosts our health. In Japan, there are 64 certified forests that have been documented to deliver health benefits just by walking through them. Today, many have a nature deficiency disorder that needs to be corrected. Ayurveda says that being in nature is a primary source of building ojas, or vitality, and we now have science to back this up.
In one study, people who lived in greener surroundings lived 12 percent longer than those who lived away from nature. Try to get out in nature, breathe, walk, run, or meditate on a rock—but most importantly, allow yourself to feel how fortunate you are to be in such surroundings. Make it a habit.
Day seven: health. We do not realize how important our health is until we lose it. Chronic pain affects more than 100 million Americans and costs some $635 billion a year, and 133 million Americans have other types of chronic health conditions.
Today, let’s be grateful for the health we have and help spread the word to others on how to be healthy now. Let’s also pray for those who are sick and suffering.
Take the time during the holidays to practice gratitude for all you have and for all those in your life. As you express this gratitude with others, watch as grace fills your hearts.