The Gratitude Trap

Gratitude is good. Gratitude is great. Over time, practicing gratitude transforms the way you look at yourself, your life and the world, but what that transformation looks like and whether and how it serves your highest good is up to you.

With awareness, your gratitude practice can…


…put things in perspective.

…shine a light on what you value (as well as the ways how you’re living your life is misaligned with those values).

…raise your vibration.

…see you through a dark night of the soul.

…make mornings meaningful, transform traffic jams into meditations and take some of the bitterness out of any pills you need to swallow.

…be your entry point into the present moment.


Without awareness, your gratitude practice can…


…bring up feelings of guilt, selfishness or unworthiness. You’re not happy/challenged/fulfilled/valued at your job, but you should just be grateful you have a job at all in this economy, shouldn’t you?

And your ego will hear: It’s not okay to desire more than what you have, never mind reach for the stars and make those dreams manifest.

But don’t worry: your wise self knows it’s precisely because you’re grateful that it’s  okay to desire and aspire to have/be/do more.


…drown out the message(s) any not-good-feeling feelings are trying to deliver. You should just change your thoughts, change the channel, change your inner scenery and visit your happy place, right?

And your ego will hear: Truly evolved people don’t experience anger, disappointment, hurt, sadness or [insert your own not-good-feeling feeling here] and if they do, they shift out of it FAST.

But don’t worry: your wise self knows that denying your not-good-feeling feelings is an act of resistance to your what-is and that that kind of resistance is more counter to your spiritual evolution than your not-good-feeling feelings.


…be a great excuse to settle for less, avoid risk (failure) and keep the distance between you and your potential greater than arm’s length. You should just stay the course because things could be so much worse, yes?

And your ego will hear: Let fear, uncertainty, anxiety and overwhelm direct the choices you make about how you live your life (they’ll keep you safe).

But don’t worry: your wise self knows that yes, things could be worse, but they could also be better beyond your wildest dreams and YOU are the only one holding you back.


Dealing with Change

When you’re dealing with change, where does mindfulness go? Do you keep your chin up or bow to yourself and what you’re experiencing?

Do you shift into doing or allow yourself to rest in being where you are and honor what you’re feeling?

Do you fight against the tide or trust that it will carry you safely to shore?

Do you grasp and cling to what was or do you open your hands to receive what will be, but isn’t here yet?

Do you grit your teeth or smile because you can’t know what the big picture is until comes into focus?

We may not know how or when change is going to show up in our lives, but if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that it will show up. When you look at that way, it’s almost silly, certainly futile, but oh-so-deeply-human to be afraid of it.

Why are we so scared?

Because we tend to view change through the lens of loss and loss is painful. We don’t like pain. Even if we hold the belief that pain can be our greatest teacher, we don’t exactly want to welcome it into our lives.

That, however, isn’t the whole answer.

If we look a little deeper, we might see that our greater fear is that we’ll never have again that which we have lost. Never again will we have the money, the love, the security, the ability or confidence in ourselves to do what needs to be done.

But what happens when change comes and it’s positive? What happens to mindfulness when we land the promotion, get the guy/girl, buy the house, sell the business or reach a goal?

We are, in a word, grateful. We’re grateful because we know, somewhere inside of us, that change will come again and next time it might not feel so good.

The question is, how can we learn to be grateful when lose the job, the guy or girl, the house, the seller or the possibility of ever achieving the goal?

We bow to ourselves.

We rest in being in where we are.

We trust the tide to carry us to shore.

We open our hands to receive.

And we smile.

We smile, because we know, somewhere inside of us, that change will come again and odds are next time,  it might feel really good.

9 Ways to be More Mindful Today

Every moment offers us an opportunity to strengthen our mindfulness muscles—and they do get stronger with use. The good news is that you don’t have to wait for an hour to free up before you get your mindfulness workout in.

Here are nine ways you can bring more mindfulness to your everyday life, just as it is:

1.    Make eye contact.
Meet and hold the gaze of everyone you cross paths with today. Notice how this makes you feel and whether it changes the quality of the interaction.

2.    Choose a favorite color.
Then, watch to see where and how often it shows up as you go about your day. This is a great tool for experiencing what can happen when we deliberately choose what we’ll pay attention to.

3.    Take five.
Count to five before you answer a question or comment on what someone else has said (out loud or in writing). Five seconds can be the difference between reacting (without thinking) and responding (thoughtfully).

4.    Open doors for others (literally).
Set the intention that wherever you go today, you’ll open or hold the door for someone—even if it means waiting a few seconds for the other person to catch up to you. No doors to hold? Make a point to let cars in ahead of you in traffic. Either way, you’ll become more mindful of your surroundings, less inclined to rush and more aware of others.

5.    Grow something from seed.
Check on your seedling daily to assess its wellbeing. Make adjustments to how you care for it based on what you see (e.g., less sunlight, more frequent watering). See if there’s an opportunity for you to start caring for yourself in the same way.

6.    Spend 10 minutes in silence.
Sit and be still. Watch what comes up. That’s it.

7.    Let the red light beat you.
When you see a yellow light, do what you’re actually supposed to do: slow the car down. If you’re like most people, I guarantee this will elicit an uncomfortable response. Pay attention to that—there’s a lesson in there.

8.    Eat at the table.
No television, radio, laptop, cell phone or books. Just you and whatever meal you’re having. Focus on one sense to start—like smell—then work with your way through the others as you continue to eat. How does this change your experience with food?

9.    Go for a walk. Leave your iPod at home and hit the trails, streets or local track. Walk deliberately, focusing on what each step feels like. It’s okay if your mind wanders—when it does, just come back to the next step.

Bringing more mindfulness into your day really is that simple, so don’t talk yourself into thinking it’s complicated. In fact, don’t think about it all. Go for a walk, count to five and just begin.