“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ― Marcel Proust

Gratitude. A word often heard in the yoga community. Gratitude feels different from giving thanks. It feels like an experience. But the interesting thing about gratitude, is that it is a skill. To allow oneself to feel grateful for something, isn't always a natural reaction. It is easy to feel it in certain occurrences. Say last minute a mother finds a sitter so she can go on date night, and she feels grateful. What is really monumental is finding gratitude in the less obvious moments. Being grateful for opportunities that passed us, for roads not travelled, for moments that feel like failure, for days that seem uneventful. That might sound exhausting, difficult. You might ask "how can I continue to surround myself with positivity in the face of challenges?" And you would be right. It is hard. Many psychologists have written and spoken on the negativity bias- the notion that even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one's psychological state and processes than do neutral or positive things. The first step is awareness, the next is intention. How can we practice to step outside of our  emotions for a moment, to understand them. How can we see the bigger picture in the face of anger, sadness, fright, or frustration? 

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience," said Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

So perhaps if we acknowledged our negative feelings, became aware of them, and accepted them, then we could practice taking ownership of them. We could replace them with intention, we could set them free.

What would be left in the empty places they resided? Gratitude.

By Anna Volfe