Gratitude is the foundation of Selah St. Simons. It is why I founded a group called Selah, which actually means pause; praise. Gratitude is where I began to see my heart and mind transform and then my life transform. When I found myself constantly wishing and hoping - for more time, more money, more room, more answers, less stress, less fatigue, less hustle...and on and on - I begged God for another way of living, a simpler and more whole and more joyful way of living. My answer was gratitude.
See, while I was wishing and hoping for more this and less that, I was blind to all the glorious gifts already in my life. Gifts of people and creation and love and opportunity and sweetness and joy. My life changed when I let go of wishing and hoping. It was as if scales fell away from my eyes and a whole big beautiful new way of living shined brightly in front of me, there all along, just waiting to be seen.
When I committed to practicing gratitude intentionally and continuously, I changed my life. Gratitude practice brings forgiveness and contentment, presence and joy, and opportunity after opportunity. I want to share some of the specific practices I use to open my heart to gratitude and all its gifts.
1 - Gratitude Journal
Think of this as an ongoing list of gifts, a visible display of how beautiful life is. Simple listing. Not prosaic or eloquent, just a list. Just for you. Nothing is too big or small to be listed. When I'm having a hard day, I love flipping back through my list to remind myself what has been given to me. Here is a peek into my list from one day last year:
2 - Solitude
Solitude forces presence, awareness, mindfulness. When we go away alone, unplugged and undistracted, something beautiful happens. We wake up and we listen. The white noise of our busy lives fades until it stops. We open ourselves to inspiration and to divine intervention - not because those things can only happen in solitude, but because we are more able to receive when we are alone, quiet, listening, noticing.
Solitude is very uncomfortable for me. I'm fidgety, awkward and guilt ridden. I feel I should be doing something more productive, more helpful, less selfish. I have found, though, that when I lean into that discomfort is when I find guidance and respite. I let down my guard and allow myself to receive. And the receiving brings gratitude. Always.
3 - Love and Light
One of my new favorite phrases/ideas. I've even started using it as a signature on my emails. Love and Light. How beautiful. Just saying it makes me happy. As an action, it's sending love and light energy and prayers to someone or something specific. I visualize my love and light literally shining like a cartoon shooting star across the distance from myself to my intended recipient. In my head they actually feel it when it hits them, and it's warm and lovely and energizing. I choose one person who has been laid on my heart to send love and light to everyday. Sometimes it's someone I know and love, sometimes an acquaintance, sometimes it's someone who I'm struggling with. I write down their name and focus on projecting love and light, love and light, love and light. All day.
I think about the love and light of Christ shining from me to them. I cannot send love and light from a place of discontent. I have to be filled with it before I can send it, so it's a beautiful gift for both myself and the intended recipient. This practice has changed me. It counteracts bitterness and hostility and replaces it with something radiant and life giving. The love and light fills me, radiates from me, and illuminates all the glorious gifts in its path.
I believe that we find what we look for. When we intend to see gifts, we see gifts. When we intend to love, we love. When we intend to experience God, He will be revealed through all of Creation. You really can love your life right now if you intend to. Your life is a miracle. Marvel at yourself as you marvel at the moon, as you marvel at the ocean, as you marvel at your children breathing and existing where there was nothing. What a gift. This life. Decide to love it, and you will.