Feeling grateful is all the rage. Why? Because it works.

It takes our lives from feeling stressed and tapped out, to abundant and pure. There are plenty of studies about how practicing gratitude literally rewires the brain. All I can say is that, in the moments I’m struggling, it’s everything.

I even wrote an article for Elephant Journal many years ago (one of my first published pieces!) called Gratitude, The Revolutionary New Sleeping Pill.

Because even as a little girl I recognized the benefits of feeling grateful.

Whenever I couldn’t sleep, I’d lie in bed and think about all the things I was happy to have in my life. Back then it was probably puppies & friends and a comfy bed. And hey, maybe it still is.

To this day if I’m having trouble sleeping, I remember to come back to this practice. Listing anything and everything I feel thankful for. Small things. Without even thinking about it too hard, just one thing after another of what I’m happy for. And it usually works.

It’s also my favorite part of yoga class. Because no matter how stressed I may be that morning, every time I force myself to slow down, sink in, and recognize the blessings in my life – I soften.

So even if my daughter took 222 years to get her shoes on, or my husband slept like a baby while I was up with my daughter, or I simply woke up cranky, the list goes on… this practice is what shifts it all.

And damn does it feel good.

I don’t mind feeling strong emotions, sometimes I like being angry. But the feeling I get when I drop all of that to feel truly, deeply, grateful – well that trumps them all. 

Which is, to be honest, one of the best parts about working with all of you. Showing up to teach instills this practice as a part of my daily life. I can feel the shift that the prompt for gratitude makes in the room. It’s community – all of us showing up for ourselves, but also for and with each other.

Lastly, I’ll encourage you to share a gratitude practice with your children.

When I was a nanny, driving the kids all around, every day on the way to school I’d ask “what are you grateful for?” And we’d all share. Now I get to practice this with my daughter, Bella. And sometimes her answers astound me. It’s not just ‘trees’ or ‘cookies’. Sometimes it’s a close friend she hasn’t seen in a while. Or something so out of the blue it reminds me yet again, kids are far more tuned in than we remember to give them credit for.

So as potentially stressful or triggering as the holidays can be, as sleepless as pregnancy or new parenting can become, and as challenging as life can sometimes feel, when we come back to gratitude, we remember just how good we can feel. We’re allowed that. And in doing so, we give others permission to feel good too. Not because we need to earn or deserve it. Simply because we’re alive, and there’s always something to feel thankful for.

Jess