Of course, there is always something to be grateful for, we are told. We tell ourselves the same. We know it, but sometimes it can be difficult to actually feel it.
Somebody who lost his job might say, “I am still grateful because I and my family are in good health” or “I see an opportunity to find something better.” One might genuinely feel this. Another might be feeling awful a minute after saying this. One could fluctuate between these two states and find it hard to move forward.
I was in an emotional rollercoaster when I had miscarriage in 2017. One day, I thought I was already healing. Another day, it just felt so ugly. Two minutes into my HeartMath® exercises, I would stop because I start crying. My then partner, now husband, was always there for me, holding space for me. Clearly something to me be grateful for. But there were times when the pain would reveal itself to me each time I remember what happened, and I get overcome by sadness and grief. It was difficult to sustain a feeling of love or gratitude. I couldn’t feel compassion for myself because it would degenerate into pity.
Something similar happens to a lot of people. We know we have to be grateful but we just can’t stay with gratitude. We know we are loved and that we love but we just can’t seem to sustain the feeling of love in our hearts. Something sucks us into a swirling current and off we go into the dark. Sometimes for a brief moment. Sometimes for longer.
One day, I was going down the stairs, and my niece was there welcoming me with a playful cheer. I couldn’t help but notice the joy that leapt out of my heart and the love that I felt as I hugged her. As I was going up the stairs to go back to my room, I intentionally recreated the feeling of joy that I felt only a few minutes ago. And when I was back at my desk, I closed my eyes and again recreated the feeling of joy. Oh, there it was. It was real. It was nourishing. That brief moment of interaction with my niece helped open my heart a little bit more. Then there was a cascade of gratitude for feeling joy again and feeling love for the gift of nieces, and loved ones and family and so on.
One of the things that helped spark color in the monotone of those days was that particular encounter with my niece. And what helped me regain my emotional vibrancy was persisting in my practice, to increase my internal awareness of what goes on inside of me no matter how brief it happens and intentionally spending a few minutes connecting with what I have been made aware of. In the case of my encounter with my niece, it was the joy that I felt in the moment. It helped open my heart.
Joy, just like gratitude and love, is a feeling that when genuinely felt puts you in a state of coherence, the alignment of the mind and the heart. It enhances brain function and regulates our hormones. It helps us reframe our experiences in life and at work.
It takes practice to sustain coherence, but if you practice often, you will increase your resilience. I have walked this path. I am still walking it. If you need a guide, I am here for you.