Q: What are you thankful for this year?
Disco Dialogues is a newsletter and interview series where Kinnari and Mitali engage in deliberate dialogue aimed to spark inner growth. Our posts start with a question to encourage reflection on topics ranging from creativity, courage and curiosity to self-care and relationships. The hope is that by sharing the dialogues that we have with ourselves and with each other, we can start meaningful conversations within our community.
A couple weeks ago I asked my husband to use one word to describe his mental state this year. “Exhausted” he said. “I’m exhausted both physically and mentally.” I have felt exhausted too, we’ve both been dog-tired caring for our new born baby but what I’ve felt more than that this year is thankful. Gratefulness has been a steady feeling for me this year. I am grateful for so much goodness in my life - for getting pregnant after I’d let that dream go, for having faith in my body to create and sustain life, for the the birth of our second daughter, for my community of friends that showed up and surrounded us with love and for having good health and peace. This internal state of gratitude has worked wonders for me - it has made the simple and sometimes even the mundane seem delightful!
Of course I’ve also had moments, days even, where I have not been able to access that gratefulness even when I’ve tried. On the mornings where I’ve woken up exhausted from tending to a newborn, I’ve felt tired, irritable, discontent and sometimes disconnected. In that state, in spite of the privilege and love in my life it’s seemed harder to be thankful. But when I let my expectations of how I should feel pass, then I’m able to reconnect with gratitude again a day or two later after a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.
“But because we are human, because we are batted about by the violent immediacies of everyday life, such gratitude eludes us as a continuous state of being. We access it only at moments, only when the trance of busyness lifts and the blackout curtain of daily demands parts to let the radiance in, those delicious moments when we find ourselves awash in nonspecific gladness, grateful not to this person, grateful not for this turn of events, but grateful at life — a diffuse gratitude that irradiates every aspect and atom of the world, however small, however unremarkable, however coated with the dull patina of habit. In those moments, everything sings, everything shimmers. In those moments, we are most alive.”
- Maria Popova, The Marginalian
With everything going on right now - so much loss, so much grief - one realizes that much of what is happening in the world is not in our control. However, there are things that are in our control. We can take stock of what we do have in our life and celebrate it. Celebrate life. Celebrate love. Celebrate peace.
So whether you are in the US, celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends today or you live in another part of the world - why not take a few moments and think about what you are grateful for this year?
Above my desk I have a poster called The Science of Happiness. Each time I glance up from my computer, my eyes fall on this quote by Brene Brown - “In my 12 years of research, I have never interviewed a single person with the capacity to really experience joy who does not also actively practice gratitude.” I read this each time to remind me how simple things can have immense power in my daily quest for joy.
“There are thousands of channels in our consciousness;
it’s up to us to choose the channel.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh
I know the value that gratitude can play in our lives so I have tried to make it a family practice in our house. At our dinner table we ask each other - who or what are you grateful for today? On days when I am tired or cranky, this ritual can remind me to pause and reflect on my day. There are many days when I struggle to find the one good thing in my day but it is on those days that I know I need this practice the most. To change my mindset and my mood.
“...In the haze of everyday routine, it’s easy to forget how much you’ve traveled and how everyone in your life has supported this journey for you…Life familiarizes us with its contents, and we are quick to take things for granted. Your amazing spouse becomes a person you see everyday, your children become screaming humans that need to be kept alive, and your fulfilling job becomes a checklist of things that just need to get done…Gratitude is when you take a moment to pause and appreciate the breathtaking view.”
- Lawrence Yeo, How to Be Thankful for Your Life with One Simple Reset
As a busy parent, it is comforting to know that a simple gratitude practice can go a long way. Research has shown that if parents practice gratitude, their children benefit too. On days when parents feel more gratitude than usual, they also experience greater positive emotions. These parents experience greater closeness to their child, satisfaction with their parenting and fewer challenging child behaviors. I know that when I fill my cup, I have more energy to handle the emotions of the family and that can create a ripple effect.
The Net of Gratitude by Rumi
Giving thanks for abundance
is sweeter than the abundance itself:
Should one who is absorbed with the Generous One
be distracted by the gift?
Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence;
abundance is but the husk,
for thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives.
Abundance yields heedlessness;
thankfulness brings alertness:
hunt for bounty with the net of gratitude.