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If you celebrate Thanksgiving, you’ve no doubt had a family member encourage everyone to go around the table and share something they’re grateful for. I mean, it’s built into the name itself, right? Even with all the uncertainty and difficulty 2020 has held, I’m entering this season with so much to be thankful for — getting engaged to the love of my life, having amazing family and friends, spending time with my pup Frankie, and having the support from my team! I could easily list any one of those things around the dinner table, but I don’t want to practice gratitude only once a year. Gratitude is something I choose to cultivate as a year-round mindset. Listing what we are grateful for is something we do around the dinner table every Friday night. Setting up a consistent gratitude practice has so many benefits and has been a major game changer! If you need a little convincing, here are three reasons why I choose to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.


1. Gratitude is great for your overall health.


Studies have shown that people who practice gratitude not only report less physical pains than other people, they are also more likely to intentionally care for themselves through regular check-ups, movement and diet. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. who researches gratitude has conducted studies that have shown a correlation between gratitude and increased positive emotions. Also — grateful people sleep better! Who doesn’t love that?


2. Gratitude improves your self-esteem.


Grateful people have attuned themselves to appreciate, value and celebrate other people and their accomplishments rather than resent them. This means less comparing themselves — something that plays a huge role in self-esteem. Gratitude for others opens up the ability to feel self-gratitude as well, leading to a confident performance and decision-making.


3. Gratitude strengthens your mind.


Grateful people don’t have easier lives — they just intentionally train themselves to notice the things worth celebrating. This practice has been shown to decrease stress and also foster resilience in the midst of difficulty. Gratitude won’t fix trauma, but it can certainly enable you to face it with a different mindset.



You’ve probably been encouraged to read more at some point in your life, but did you know that reading can have long-lasting positive effects on the way your brain functions? Reading has been shown to be a fantastic workout for your brain in improving communication and memory. Because so many brain functions are activated when you’re reading, the increase in sustained brain activity can not only train your brain in processing narratives, it also keeps your memory sharp and increases your attention span. Just think of it like lifting weights for your mind. Reading is also so helpful for lowering stress levels. In 2009, a research study showed that 30 minutes of reading lowered stress just as well as yoga or humor did. So if you’re not feeling up to that morning yoga practice, pick up a book instead — your mind and body will be grateful.


Reading is something I deeply value and encourage in my clients as well. It’s helped educate me, teach me about myself, and strengthen my mind — so I wanted to share 3 books that have been impactful for me:


1. Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie


I send this book to every single one of my one-on-one clients, because it has played a huge role in my development! It’s a collection of daily meditations that are great little snippets to boost morale and help you along the path to spiritual growth. Melody Beattie just makes the world come alive with possibility — and sitting with her writing is the best way to start your day, connect with yourself and the world around you.


2. Becoming Supernatural by Joe Dispenza


I’m reading this right now — and am loving all of the neuroscience-backed material! This is perfect for the science nerd. It’s a great mixture between scientific information and ancient wisdom — showing you how to rewire your mind to live a more expansive, mystical life. Super recommend!


3. The Book of Delights by Ross Gay


Ross Gay is a treasure — as is this book of short essays. He wrote this book as a year-long meditation in making space for, noticing and documenting delight. Sometimes it’s delight in painful things, sometimes it’s in easy-to-enjoy things. He mainly just trains himself to see the beauty around him and experience gratitude for it all — and it’s very effective in inspiring the same in the person reading it.



With the U.S. 2020 Election just around the corner (exactly one week from today), you might be falling into unwanted habits and mindsets— isolated at home, scrolling through social media, and feeling overwhelmed about all the uncertainty.


If you’re experiencing Election Stress Disorder (look it up — it’s a real thing!), then there’s no better time to practice mindfulness, awareness and compassion so you can up your resilience. Not only will focusing on your health and wellbeing help you stay afloat, it’ll also allow you to respond and make a positive impact from an empowered, clear-headed place.


When we fall into anxious mindsets, our reactivity skyrockets. Instead, bringing in some intentionality can do wonders for your mental and emotional clarity that will help you meet whatever challenges may come.


Here are three mindfulness practices that can help you develop adaptive resilience and ease your election anxiety:


1. S.T.O.P.


Stop

Take a breath

Observe your body, feelings and thoughts

Proceed


I use this practice all the time — and it’s such a simple one to integrate into your day-to-day. Whether you’re commuting, scrolling through the news, or in a difficult conversation, this is a practice you can do subtly that will allow you to pause and practice awareness. Even a 10 second pause, breath and body-scan will give your mind one more moment to move from reactivity to intentionality.



2. Practice compassion.


I’m sure you have loved ones you struggle to see eye to eye with. When we’re disagreeing with someone we care for, it can be that much harder to prevent our emotions from running the show in how we respond. Instead, cultivate compassion for them.


Think of a situation where you and that person had a different response — and you think theirs was the wrong response. Mentally state the judgment you have of the other person — and be sure to exaggerate it so you’re clear on what it actually is. Then ask yourself, “Why do I think they behaved that way? What might be their underlying need?” Once you have that need in mind, take it one step further and ask yourself if there’s a way for you to connect to that need in them. While practicing compassion for another person won’t solve our differences (or change their response necessarily), it will begin to shift your response to them — and make way for more empathetic, productive interactions.



3. Ask for the help you need.


Don’t even know where to begin with your ballot? Confess to someone you trust that you don’t know how to get started — and then ask for help with research or finding a voter guide that can explain the issues more clearly to you. Feeling like you need someone to process your stress with? Ask for help. So many people are feeling exactly the same thing — but are potentially too afraid to reach out to someone else. You may be helping someone else at the same time you’re voicing your need. Feel confused about the issues? Model curiosity and ask lots of questions. There are so many people and organizations who would be willing to help you get clarity and make an informed decision.






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