On gratitude, and being genuine

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As I step out of an October filled with breast cancer awareness campaigns, it's easy to feel grateful for so many things in my life: gratitude for a healthy family and fulfilling work, for our strong, progressive, and supportive community, for our health care, and for all the fun that we get to have living where we do.

Autumn is my favorite season, and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but even now, I'm not walking around every day spewing gratitude no matter what comes my way. I'm not sure I'd believe anyone who said they were.

When I'm feeling "less than," I head outside for a walk, I get on my yoga mat, or I think of something I'm grateful for and write about it. These are my go-to practices for getting out of a funk and back on to a path of wellness, whatever that means.

Along with much warmth and many joys, the holiday season can present many stresses. If you're feeling pressured to feel nothing but gratitude, take a pause and remember that life is more complicated than that. Yes, cultivating gratitude goes a long way in making your life more enjoyable. It really does.

But let your gratitude be genuine. Sometimes, letting something be as it is, is enough. You don't have to let it go, you don't have to feel grateful for the lessons it can or will teach you. Sometimes, we need to just let it be.

Will you be around people this holiday season that make you feel stressed? less than? Don't force yourself to be grateful for the lessons they could teach you. But do let yourself sit still and feel that YOU are OK, and that you can create enough space in your heart to hold that challenging relationship without letting it weigh you down.

Are you managing illness or financial troubles? Sometimes life gets REALLY hard, and to be told that we should be grateful for what we have and forget about the rest can be the opposite of supportive, even if it is well intended. If you are the one who is feeling gratitude along with other emotions, then let yourself feel them. Sit quietly. Sometimes all it takes is a few short minutes of quiet breathing (while walking outside - my favorite) to shed a few layers of anxious thought patterns. What you're left with is enough clarity in your mind and space in your heart to hold the gratitude and the challenges in an honest, genuine way.

Gratitude is good. Cultivate more of it in your life. Make gratitude lists. Speak your gratitude out loud. But let it be genuine, and true to where you are right here, right now.

This year, I invite you to focus on being grateful for the awareness that allows you to be genuine, in your gratitude and in everything else.