It's Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and people have gathered to reflect on what they're thankful for: friends, family, food, shelter, safety. On this single day, when everyone is focused on giving thanks, it's pretty easy to cultivate gratitude. But, in the hustle-bustle of our days, we often take the many blessings of our lives for granted. The amazing (clean water on demand, plentiful food) becomes mundane; and we find it easier to grumble at the little struggles rather than to be grateful for all that we have.
One tool that we at IHE have incorporated into many of our courses (and use ourselves) is Naikan, a Japanese form of self-reflection (that we learned about from our friends at the ToDo Institute) in which we ask ourselves three questions:
1. What have I received from ____________?
2. What have I given ___________________?
3. What harm have I caused ____________?
When we fill in those blanks with all that we can think of -- such as what we've received from the soil, air, water, family, friends, co-workers, the clerk at the store, the stranger, the animals who inspire and ground us, the workers who grew our produce, etc. -- we see just how much we can be thankful for and how much we can give to others. Naikan also helps us become more mindful of the harm we've caused to other people, animals and the earth, so that we can strive to make choices that do more good.
Try adding Naikan to your day. Gratitude is a great gift to give yourself and others.
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