The Art of Self-Nurturing: The Healing Power of Gratitude

The Art of Self-Nurturing: The Healing Power of Gratitude by Kelley Grimes | #AspireMag

There are only two ways to live your life.  

One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is miracle.~Albert Einstein 

Can you imagine living life as if everything is a miracle? It sounds great, but when we are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted it takes real effort to see a miracle in front of us. I know that experience well after raising a daughter with chronic health challenges.   

Being the primary caregiver for my daughter with epilepsy taught me so much about the healing power of gratitude. When my favorite musician Michael Franti says when the hard times come, the teacher is in the room,” he speaks truth. When Fiona was two years old she had her first seizure that lasted fifty-five minutes and she almost died. The dramatic beginning of our epilepsy journey was filled with both terror at the unknown path before us and gratitude that our sweet girl had survived this traumatic experience. 

My lessons around gratitude continued each time Fiona had a seizure. The unpredictability of seizures were anxiety inducing and often left me feeling off center and on guard. For years I lived on call” wondering when the next seizure would occur. Every time the phone rang my body reacted in stress and I lived perpetually in crisis management mode. Not a week went by when we did not need to change our plans or schedule due to Fionas seizures or migraines and we often missed holidays and family celebrations.

In these hard times there was definitely a teacher in the room and it was gratitude. When I stopped resisting the need to let go of how I thought things were supposed to be and instead focus on the gifts in the present moment, my quality of life dramatically improved. Accepting the unpredictability of epilepsy taught me so much about being grateful for this present moment.   

Learning to be present in the moment and truly appreciate the now has been an empowering self-nurturing practice and supported a more artful approach to my life.   

I have found that deep appreciation for the present moment helps me feel more alive and see the potential miracles and blessings around me. Focusing on cultivating mindfulness, allowed me to not attach my happiness to whether Fiona was seizure free and instead recognize how grateful I was for her strength, courage, and perseverance. I have profound gratitude for how resilient and resourceful she is and how bravely she has dealt with the challenges she faced day in and day out.  

When I choose gratitude and being present in the moment over feeling out of control, I know I am living the wisdom learned from this challenging journey. Gratitude allows me to connect deeply to the peace, joy, and meaning in each moment and savor lifes experiences. I am so grateful to continue to nurture the healing power of gratitude in my life.  

I want to share with you seven ways I practice gratitude so that you can embrace the healing power of gratitude and nurture yourself through your gratitude practice. 

1. Wake up and go to bed with gratitude 

I love starting the day with Thank you so much for another day on this beautiful planet!” You can begin and end your day with three things you are grateful for to focus your attention on what is going well in your life. 

2. Share gratitude at meals 

Many people begin their meals by saying grace or sharing gratitude for all the people it took to bring the nourishing food to the table. When my girls were young we sang our gratitude at the beginning of meals. As they became older and are now young adult women, we share things from our day we are grateful for at meals as a way of connecting and understanding what is meaningful in each others lives. Integrate gratitude practice into all your meals and notice how it improves your mindful eating and appreciation of your meals. 

3. ABCs of gratitude 

One of our favorite gratitude practices is the ABCs of gratitude. We start at A and continue through Z, sharing something we are grateful for that starts with each letter. It is a wonderful way to connect and be creative while growing your appreciation for many different things in your life. I learn so much when I invite others to join me in this practice as it widens my experience of gratitude.   

4. Birthday gratitude 

Birthdays are a wonderful time to acknowledge all we are grateful for about a person. You can share your gratitude in a card, make a gratitude sign for party goers to add to, or go around at the celebration and have everyone share their gratitude for the birthday celebrant. Sharing what we are grateful for about people in our lives is the best gift we can give them! 

5. Gratitude walks 

There is nothing that invokes gratitude more easily for me than a walk in nature. Whether I am appreciating the beauty of the trees, clouds, birds, flowers, or magic of the changing seasons, nature allows me to connect mindfully and gratefully. Allow yourself to notice all the miracles around you as you take a gratitude walk and open to the awe and wonder in your life. Embody gratitude in each step and notice how empowerng and healing this practice becomes. 

6. Transform your mood and negative conversations with gratitude 

I have found gratitude to be an excellent antidote for a bad mood or negativity of any kind. When you notice that you have slipped into critical or judgmental thinking, shift into positive thinking with gratitude. Identify something in the experience you are grateful for and then add to it. Watch as your bad mood transforms into peace and joy. Remember what we focus on grows. Also, when you notice the focus of a group you are a part of is gossipy or negative, shift it by honoring the challenge and then askwhat they are grateful for. This gives people an opportunity to reframe the difficulty into a lesson and transform their perspective of lack into abundance through gratitude. If you are not ready to engage others in this direct way, create a ripple of change by sharing what you are grateful about from the difficult experience. As a gentle reminder, this is different than silver lining” someone elses experience, so be sure you focus on your own gratitude rather than telling others what they should” be grateful about. 

7. Create communities of gratitude  

I am so passionate about the healing power of gratitude, I have integrated gratitude practice into many of the communities that I am a part, including my faith community, boards of directors, staff meetings, support groups I run, workshops I facilitate, organizations I volunteer with, and gatherings with family and friends. Choose a community you can bring the healing power of gratitude to and notice the positive impact it has! 

I hope you will try one of the gratitude practices I have shared and begin feeling the healing power of gratitude today. Dont forget yourself when it comes to gratitude. Be sure to include what you are grateful for about yourself.  It is deeply self-nurturing to practice acknowledging yourself as a miracle and blessing.   

What is one thing you are grateful for about yourself today? 

Remember as Marcus Aurelius wrote, Within is the wellspring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.” Gratitude connects you to the wellspring of good in your life, so start digging by recognizing the miracles all around you!

May you embrace the healing power of gratitude as you nurture peace in the world from the inside out! 

Sending you peace, love and gratitude, Kelley 

Kelley Grimes, MSW About Kelley Grimes, MSW

Kelley Grimes, MSW, is a counselor, speaker, internationally bestselling author and self-nurturing expert. She is passionate about empowering overwhelmed and exhausted individuals to live with more peace, joy, and meaning through the practice of self-nurturing. Kelley also provides professional and leadership development to organizations dedicated to making the world a better place and is an Aspire Magazine expert columnist. She is married to an artist, has two empowered daughters, and loves singing with a small women’s group. Learn more at www.cultivatingpeaceandjoy.com and be sure to claim her free Cultivating Peace and Joy mobile app