Did you know that November has been designated the official month of gratitude? Since Thanksgiving falls in this month, the economies of scale made sense to parlay it into a month-long celebration. I told my husband that it was National Gratitude Month and that we needed to be extra thankful for each other all month long. When I did, he quickly brought me down to earth by reminding me that we should be grateful every single day, not just during the thirty days of November.

I hate it when he’s right.

To gear up for Thanksgiving – the biggest gratitude event of the year (doesn’t that sound like it should be in a car ad?) – I decided to theme my yoga classes around giving thanks, not just in November but for all 365 days of the year. I ventured online to find some cool gratitude quotes to read in class and found this one that’s full of wisdom from one of the world’s great philosophers, Buddha.

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little,

and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick,

and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”

I’m not quite sure if that was really Buddha since it doesn’t sound like his voice, but even if it wasn’t him doing the talking, I still dig the simplicity and kick-you-in-the-ass common sense of this quote.

While wandering online, I also happened upon some interesting research that was reported on Wikipedia; numerous studies suggest that grateful people have higher levels of well-being. Here are a few direct quotes from these studies:

Grateful people are more likely to have higher levels of happiness, lower levels of stress and depression, and to be more satisfied with their lives and social relationships.

Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and self-acceptance.

Grateful people have more positive ways of coping with the difficulties they experience in life, being more likely to seek support from other people, to grow from the experience, and to spend more time planning how to deal with the problem.

I really like this next one…

Grateful people sleep better, and this seems to be because they think less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep.

Now that is a great idea! Just imagine how much better you would sleep at night if, right before going to bed, you thought about all of the things you’re grateful for instead of worrying about what you have to do the next day.

When is the last time you really paused and thought about all of the people and things in your life that you have to be grateful for? Instead of just making this mental inventory list on Thanksgiving Day, take a few minutes sometime today to make a list of three things that you are grateful for. Then, close your eyes, sit with your breath, and relish the goodness and prosperity that you already have in your life. Perhaps you could form a habit of thinking of the three things you’re grateful for at the end of each and every day right before you nod off. Yogini goddess and teacher Cora Wen recently posted on Facebook that if we practice an exercise like this every day, it might change our personal worlds. And that might change the whole world around you. If you want to take this one step further, start capturing these daily pearls in a gratitude journal.

“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

We shared a lot of smiles throughout the class, and I reminded my students that happiness is one form of gratitude. We gave thanks for our bodies, our breath, and our health. What an omazing gift we have in the practice of yoga.

I read this poem as they were awakening from savasana.

Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire;
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes;
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

Author Unknown

Remember to open your heart and share your gratitude with others. Let that awesome feeling of being appreciative fill your heart with joy and well-being, and sleep well my yogi friends! Happy Thanksgiving Day and wishing a Happy Year of Gratitude to all.

Thankful Image: abcdz2000 via sxc

Thanksgiving Image: Courtesy of  The Graphics Fairy