People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. (The Science Behind Gratitude, happify.com)
Alane Freund’s Gratitude A-Z first penned in the Winter of 2020 and a “Winter of Human Evolution”. Feel free to borrow! Copying is really good in this case. Scan to the bottom for a gratitude practice to share with your family.
A. Are You Highly Sensitive LIVE community…that we made it affordable and accessible. I’m grateful for it, and I’m proud of it. I’m grateful to and for Susan Stiffelman, a great parenting educator and colleague for establishing this model of helping many more people than a traditional therapist is able to reach. To find out more or join our community, click here. (We have a webinar on GRATITUDE every year around US Thanksgiving, or available after the fact if you missed it.)
B. Banjo who is my service dog in training to be a therapy dog both for me and for my clients. He’s a constant challenge and a tremendous joy to almost anyone who meets him. Also BLM Black Lives Matter, enough said.
C. College and financial aid. What a gift this has been to my child who is at Amherst College where they take amazing care of their students and their community.
D. Dad: My dad and also dads everywhere. Dads are so important to families, and while my son does not have an actual “dad”, he has many men in his life who have filled that important place in his development, and I’m so grateful to and for them including my dad, his grandfather. I’m really grateful for my relationship as an adult with my dad.
E. Elaine Aron… Elaine was a pioneer back in the 90s. Today, she’s my mentor and friend. Her prolific, selfless work has changed my life and the lives of thousands, if not millions, of people in the world. Her tireless dedication to helping highly sensitive people and sharing her wisdom is always inspiring.
F. Family and friends. Community means everything. People I love and who love me unconditionally keep me grounded in the world.
G. Grandparents are Gifts to their families. It’s also wonderful to adopt and borrow grandparents. They need you and you need them.
H. Horses. I couldn’t decide between horses and home, but when I applied my heart and mind to the quandary, I realized that horses are my home. They’re part of my work, part of my passion, and the most grounded place I can be is the middle of my herd.
I. Indians and Indigenous Peoples. I know that Native Americans apply many different monikers to themselves, but growing up in Oklahoma, “land of the red people,” my friends were self-identified as Indians. Living in November with an awareness of American Thanksgiving, I can’t help but feel my heart swell with tremendous gratitude, sorrow, and compassion for so many different communities and tribes of people who suffered as a result of European immigration to North America.
J. Job. I love my job and all of its variations. I wanted to be a physician for much of my childhood, and a big part of me still wishes I was a doctor. However the only real reason I wish that now is because it would increase credibility and influence in my current work and my mission to reach and help all 1.7 billion highly sensitive people in the world.
K. Kitten. My family’s Covid Kitty is Doc. She usually appears on camera in my videos, webinars, and video therapy sessions. She’s warm and playful, and the colder, sadder or more anxious I feel, the more she wants to lay on me. She’s a gift and she’s gifted.
L. Love. It’s simple. I love you all, and I’m always working on loving myself. 🙂
M. My mom, all moms everywhere, and motherhood for myself. Mother’s hold The Circle and everyone in it. What I have learned from my mom could easily fill an Encyclopedia Britannica series. (Young readers, ask a parent what an encyclopedia was back in the day.)
N. Niche. I spent five years as a member of BNI, Business Network International. I’m grateful to my friend, Andrew Rader, LAc. and hypnotherapist extraordinaire, who invited me to join BNI. Before joining, I was really afraid to claim a niche in my profession. I’ve learned “specific is terrific” from BNI, and finding and leaning into my niche has made me more effective as a consultant and psychotherapist, not less, as I once feared.
O. Oceans. We all know the oceans sustain our planet, and I’m just plain old grateful that I get to go to see the Pacific Ocean because I live so close to it.
P. Peace. Is it a fantasy? No. For me peace is a reality, within and without. By increasing my internal peace, I hope to influence more peace in the world both near and far away. I’m grateful for little bits of peace and pray we unfold more as we continue to evolve as a species and planet.
Q. Quiet… quiet places, quiet time, quieting the mind.
R. Reading… I read all the time, as does my mom. Fiction is tremendously important to me because it is an escape for my busy reactive brain, but I also value reading for education and reading for resources for my clients and for my own life. And I love audio books, too.
S. Sensory processing sensitivity, the scientific name for the personality trait of highly sensitive people (HSP). I have said many times that I’m often ambivalent about my own sensitivity, or even that I grieve that I have the trait. It’s not always fun to have a finely-tuned nervous system that keeps me on the edge of overstimulation much of the time, but I’m grateful to be highly sensitive. I’m grateful to have the ability to see the truth in the world, process it deeply, and share it with others.
T. Teachers. What a job! Being a teacher requires a special gift, a tremendous amount of compassion, and infinite patience. Why do we compensate the most important job in the world with such a small amount of money?
U. USA. It’s been hard for me to be grateful to be an American for the past few years. My family and friends said many times during the past year that we might have to move to a different country because what was going on here was untenable. But, I remember hearing from a wise friend that they were able to respect the office of the presidency even if they didn’t respect the person in it.
V. Vision. Yes I’m glad I can see, tremendously grateful, in fact. What I mean by Vision on this list is the ability to see clearly and to think about, plan, and create a future with imagination and wisdom.
W. Water. Water is perhaps my most important self-care tool. Listening to creeks, rivers, oceans, the rain…and bathing, swimming, washing my hands or face in the middle of a stressful moment, and of course hydrating. Drinking water is at the top of my list.
X. X-rays. It’s a little predictable, but in fact, I need to think about being grateful for the ability to have x-rays–the ones at the airport that help keep us safe and the ones at the doctor’s office that help diagnose and plan treatment. As an HSP, I can feel a little paranoid about the radiation, but I’ve learned from my friend in AA that when there’s something you’re worried about, it is time to get down on your knees and pray about it with gratitude, so I’m putting x-rays on this year’s list.
Y. Yawns. When a horse or a dog yawns, they are releasing, calming…I think it’s true for humans too. And if we need to sleep to release, so be it.
Z. Zoom. When I started using Zoom for Are You Highly Sensitive LIVE back in December 2019, I was so clueless and overwhelmed. I made this video on using Zoom as an HSP and I’m sharing it with you even though it’s so far from perfect. 🙂 During the past couple of years, there have been Zoom struggles, sound issues, updates that didn’t work, and recordings that were messed up, but I am soooo grateful for this easy platform that has changed our world, making so much beautiful work available to so many people. I don’t even resent all the money they are making off of us…That’s how gratitude works for me (in this moment, anyway).
FAMILY GRATITUDE PRACTICE
For your family gratitude practice, put a big piece of poster board on the wall and attach a marker on a string. (Use a washable marker if you have young writers and you might need two poster boards and a bigger grid.) If your family is older and spread far and wide or in homes across town, this can be done as a Google Doc (or other shared online document). However the visual of doing it on the wall in your home is powerful! Label your Gratitude List A-Z down the left and make a column for each family member. With a yardstick, board, or broom handle as your straightedge, create a grid (great teaching moment of this skill for parents/teachers!)
Over the course of a month (and moving toward the new year or any other family holiday) encourage everyone to fill it in. You can start with the names of people in your family, and you can save the details for a breakfast (the better meal for these things with highly sensitive children) or dinner table discussion–maybe a letter a day for 26 days. Try incorporating this practice once or twice a year. Teens and adults, you might want to start every morning with 2-3 “gratitudes” you write in a notebook by your bed. It really resets the day.
Thank you for checking out my blog. I’m grateful.