Feeling Good during the Holiday Season Might Mean Practicing Intentional Gratitude

Deborah Hawkins intentional gratitude practice is different from making a gratitude list of things and experiences life brings you. It’s about knowing what you value and practicing it daily, seeing things you love in different situations.

“Intentional gratitude changed my life because I don’t feel like a victim. We can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we view what happens to us. We take control of our own mind,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins appreciates big windfalls, but showing up for her practice involves being grateful for the small things that happen in her daily life. 

A Grateful Dozen

“The core of my practice is personal gratitude themes. Everyone will have their own themes. I believe gratitude is a way to celebrate yourself. What you are grateful for reflects what you value.”

Hawkins developed her practice as a way to recover from depression and anxiety many years ago, and she uses intentional gratitude to this day. She suggests you make a list of twelve things you value, more if you want. Then, you look for things in your daily experience that fall into those twelve categories. 

Some of her themes are beauty, belonging, good fortune, neighborhood discoveries, and seeing things with tourist eyes. 

Hawkins has written two books Mindful Meditations, a collection of moments of gratitude from her own life that she compiled from her blog, and Practice Gratitude Transform Your Life, a workbook that brings you closer to your own intentional gratitude practice.

During the pandemic lockdown, rather than being upset about being stuck in her home, Hawkins looked around her home at her clothes, her music, her exercise equipment, her dog, her full fridge and felt good that if she was going to be stuck there at least she took pleasure in her home. 

“I’m proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished or put together myself,” she said. “Every time I see a good moment and get a good feeling, I take pause. I ask myself what is at the heart of the good feeling?”

This leads her to one of her themes. She calls this her pro-active self-inquiry asking herself how her themes (values) are showing up in this situation.

She was once impatient while driving. She looked over at the car next to her at a light and saw a dog sticking its head out the window. She found this funny and then remembered one of her values that she loved to be surprised. 

Hawkins shares more on her web site and in her books on how you too can practice intentional gratitude. She also will coach you in creating your own practice. You can find her at www.nosmallthing.net.

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