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The Grace of Gratitude

Inspire Health Event Calendar March 2, 2021

Gratia (Latin): Grace, graciousness, gratefulness

Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what we have, whether tangible or intangible. Research suggests that gratitude practices (for example, journaling about our gratitude, or sharing our grateful feelings with one another) can increase positive mood states and decrease feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety. What better way to welcome spring than with a practice of gratitude.

This year, many have shared how much they have missed the opportunity to connect with friends in a safe and social way – something we may have taken for granted before the pandemic. While the loss of in-person connection brings up feelings of grief and frustration, it also offers an opportunity. We can be grateful for the time we’ve spent together in the past and the time we’ll be together in-person in the future. We can also be grateful for the technology available so that we can connect safely during these times.

At InspireHealth, we are grateful for how technology has enabled us to connect. One year ago in March, InspireHealth moved all of its services and programs online. Before the pandemic, we provided video and telephone consultations and had one regular online meditation class. Now, we continue to offer these consultations plus we offer over more than 20 classes weekly to patients across the province and beyond. For everyone – and particularly for those living at a distance from our in-person centres and those with low energy or mobility issues — there are currently many opportunities to connect with InspireHealth health care professionals (one-on-one and in classes) and other people living with cancer.

There is grace in gratitude. At InspireHealth, we are deeply touched by witnessing patients, friends and family members turn to gratitude in times of grief. Gratitude is not the negating of pain, but rather, a practice that can enable us to hold ourselves and our pain with more gentleness. Gratitude can be a source of healing.

A culture of toxic positivity would say we ‘should’ be grateful, but true gratitude doesn’t mean we should feel any certain way. True gratitude allows for all of our feelings, the grief and the joys. For example, in holding our grief for the death of a loved one, we might also hold gratitude for the love and relationship we had with them. This way of being is eloquently expressed in Mark Nepo’s poem, Adrift, when he says, I am so sad and everything is beautiful. Gratitude helps us see beauty.

An invitation of gratitude through loss is an experience many patients reflect. Life changes through cancer, and through these changes there is sometimes a shift in perspective. As a wise young adult living with cancer once shared, “I will not say I am grateful for cancer, but I am grateful for what it has taught me. It has taught me to prioritize what really matters, set healthy boundaries, and take care of myself”.

Gratitude is a state and a trait

It is a feeling experience (state) and a disposition (trait) that some of us are more inclined to have in day-to-day life. For some, this trait is second nature. For others, it is a state of which we can experience and learn to cultivate more, which can become a trait over time with practice and awareness.

What can we do to bring more gratitude into our lives?

  1. Specify. When you are naming your gratitude, be specific and notice how you feel. For example, instead of, “I am grateful for a roof over my head,” ask yourself, what about your home do you appreciate? Clean sheets, electricity, running water? Notice how it feels in your body when you think of these things.
  2. Express it! Research on gratitude shows that keeping a journal is an excellent way of noticing gratitude. If you want to take it to the next level, share it! Write a thank you note to a friend, a neighbour, a grocery store, a teacher, etc.
  3. Use your senses. Check in with your senses. Notice what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, touching, and tasting.
  4. Pause before a meal. Be thankful for the food you will put in your body. A mindful moment before eating can support healthy digestion and increase enjoyment. Perhaps consider, where did this food come from? A honey bee can produce just one tablespoon of honey in its lifetime. This type of awareness may help us to pause and savour our food.
  5. Join us for a Grati-Tuesday Meditation class. Offered bi-weekly, our meditation class is dedicated to the practice and sharing of gratitude. Just 30 minutes long, we gather together to share stories of gratitude and sit in 20 minutes of gratitude meditation.

*Next meditation classes are Tuesday, March 9th & Tuesday, March 23rd from 6:00-6:30pm.

**Our Gratitude workshop, “Cultivating Gratitude”, is on Tuesday, March 23rd from 2:00-4:00pm.