BY: CLAIRE SIERRA Access the Hidden Power of Gratitude Let’s be real: it’s been an intense year and we’re not done yet, are we? The next few months are likely to be some of the wackiest we’ve seen, ever. Just as things were rebounding from the never-ending pandemic, then (much needed) racial rebalancing, and wildfires. Really? How are you coping? We know not everyone feels good about traveling. (For you that do: THANK YOU!) In the face of everything, we’ve been revisiting our core intentions at the Balch. Developing this retreat for respite and rejuvenation away from the hustle & madness of life feels more relevant than ever. To do this we’re leaning into one of our core strategies for mental/emotional replenishment: gratitude. As a tool for happiness the practice of thankfulness has been in the mainstream for years. And it’s an unlikely but powerful perspective for us right now, as uncertainty looms. We could worry about the future, but what good would that do? Instead we’re learning to be nimble, intuitive, compassionate, and responsive, as needs arise. A more Feminine approach. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, lowers impatience, improves sleep, boosts positive mood, reduces depression, benefits peak performance in sports and business, and a greater sense of well-being, and better health. Gratitude gives a sense of perspective that enables positive action. But even knowing gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. (Especially in times like these–which is why it’s so crucial, too.) Did you know that 10 minutes of gratitude boosts your immune system for 4 days?! That’s crucial right now with Corona fears. To meet its full healing potential in our lives, Gratitude needs to be more than just a Thanksgiving exercise. That’s why we’re practicing gratitude, as a new way of looking at things. Remember, gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach where bad things are whitewashed or ignored. Giving thanks—instead of complaining about (or wishing for) what we lack—we shift to see life as a blessing and an opportunity. Be present to the pain, heartbreak, and injustice in this world, but also focus on the gifts to rebalance. It’s a habit to redirect attention. There are so many things to be grateful for: colorful autumn leaves, furnace heat, hot water, legs that work, friends who really listen, chocolate, warm jackets, ripe tomatoes, the ability to read, sunshine, butterflies… What’s on your list? (Let yourself think of 5 now.) Some Ways to Practice Gratitude Keep a gratitude journal to note things you are thankful for. Make daily, weekly, or monthly lists. Keep that journal or list where you can see helps build this skill. Make a gratitude collage. Vision Mapping draws more of the same to you. Share gratitude about moments in your day around the dinner table or as part of your bedtime ritual. Make a game of finding the hidden blessings in a challenging situation. Instead of complaining, state a gratitude instead. With practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may discover how much better you feel. After a few weeks, make note how gratitude is impacting your life. That sense of fulfillment & hope is gratitude at work. Among our long list of what we’re grateful for: Caring and hardworking team that makes being here fun: Debra, Ticia, Tonia, Tari, Liz, Gunner, Mackenzie, & Dallas. Remarkable guests: You arrive as strangers and leave (and return) as friends.