November marks the beginning of what many call the season of giving thanks or gratitude. It is a cozy
feeling that provides some extra warmth as the days get colder and shorter. But there’s more to it than
feeling warm and fuzzy. People who practice gratitude experience more joy and overall well-being.
Research has shown that a gratitude practice can also improve your physical and emotional health, your relationships, and your self-esteem. As you may have guessed, practicing gratitude is more than just
saying thank you at the checkout line. Anything we call a practice takes some intentionality work to create the habit.
There are many ways you can practice gratitude: journaling; sharing with family and friends at the end
of the day; prayer; meditation; to name a few. But, anything called a practice is often challenging. If
you are finding it difficult to give thanks or feel grateful, check in with your use of the scarcity mindset. When we are coming from a scarcity point of view, the theme is “not enough.” I’m not enough. I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough support. My boss, my friend, my ex, my kid, my [fill in the blank] is not doing enough. This type of thinking focuses on the other. The angry and fearful defensive
stance prevents us from not only looking at how we can grow or learn, but keeps us from being grateful
for what is enough.
If this sounds familiar you are not alone. In her book Daring Greatly, social worker and researcher Brené
Brown writes “worrying about scarcity is our culture version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when we’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability) we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.”
It may seem like the antidote to scarcity is abundance or more, but this thinking which just send us
further down the scarcity trap. “If when” and “if only” thinking do not create abundance. Rather,
focusing on what you don’t have and want will further drive abundance away and make gratitude a
foreign concept. Here are some suggestions for releasing a scarcity mindset:
Think and act with generosity. Thinking generously costs nothing and pays off. Being generous with
your thoughts means you assume the best. Instead of thinking someone is out to be hurtful consider
that they are struggling and the offense is not personal. The world is a much happier place to be in
when you assume good intentions.
Act generously also improves your outlook on the world. Try going out of your way to give someone a compliment, hold the door, thank someone sincerely. These actions change our mood and make it hard to get stuck in scarcity.
Practice self-compassion. Being in scarcity is a sign that we are hurting or needing something. Any
external support is negated when we continue to beat ourselves up internally. Self-compassion is
treating ourselves as we would treat a loved one and really doing it. This means talking to ourselves as
we would a dear friend and taking care of ourselves as we would our children and loved ones. For more
information on self-compassion check out https://self-compassion.org/. To sign up for our 2019 Self-
Compassion Group email Aurora Moreno at email@example.com.
Focus on enough. Have you ever heard the expression the universe will only give you what you can handle? What if this were true in the positive sense also? If we aren’t able to enjoy what we already have, it’s hard to complain that we don’t have enough. Try appreciating the small things. Gratitude
does not have to be about grand gestures or amazing opportunities. Being grateful for the sun shining,
your cup of coffee in the morning, the bus being on time are all beautiful gifts to be thankful for. These
also have nothing to do with others.
Mindfulness: gratitude for breath. In Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes, “As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than there is wrong, no matter how ill or how hopeless you may feel.” Practicing mindfulness is another way to move away from focusing on the other and coming back to ourselves with self-compassion. Check out Rest & Return here at Omaha Integrative Care to learn more about mindfulness meditation.
There is a certain joy that is contagious. It is the joy in coming back to what is simple and we know to be
true – small things like being grateful, generous, and finding the abundance in what we already have.