By Elyza Dolby
Last Thanksgiving, I woke up and drove the 3-ish hours to my parents house. As the sun shone down, and the speakers blasted some feel good tunes, I sipped cacao from my travel mug and felt this overwhelming sensation take over my body. I could feel it in my cells. It was its own type of sunlight. It brought tears to my eyes. I was bursting with… yep, if you read the title of this blog, you could probably guess it… GRATITUDE.
As a yoga teacher, I talk about the G word constantly, having students hug themselves and practice self-gratitude at the end of every practice. I journal my gratitudes every evening before I close my eyes, even on my sleepiest evenings. I teach METTA, the practice of loving-kindness, in workshops regularly. I’ve even created corporate wellness experiences around the vast clinically researched benefits of the medicine that is gratitude. But no matter how often you consciously practice it, when the real DEAL emotion hits you, it can be overwhelming - in the best kind of way.
As the wave of appreciation continued to sweep my body, I realized I HAD to do more than hold it in. I needed to spread it out… to all of the people who were filling my personal gratitude list. 2018 had been a doozy of a year, filled with the most significant heartbreak of my life, the most life-altering experiences through travel, a few big scary/exciting decisions about who I was becoming, and enough laughter and tears to fill a few lifetimes. One by one, I started calling the people who had made the biggest impact in even the littlest of ways throughout the year. I quickly realized that due to the holiday, no one was answering, and the damn voicemails kept cutting me off. But instead of getting disgruntled, Operation Gratitude took on a new life. I started sending voice memos in varying lengths (up to 10 minutes, whoops!) to every human who came to mind. To those humans (like my ex-partner or my therapist) whom I couldn’t spontaneously reach out to, I created voice memos that I stored on my phone sending all the love their way - and surprisingly, those felt JUST as good. As I pulled into my childhood neighborhood, I was still thinking of more special people to send love to; the list felt endless (and really was!) The icing on the cake (or whipped cream on the pumpkin pie?) was receiving texts, calls, voice memos, and photos in response, hearing from people that I hadn’t heard from in months. My heart was bursting not only from the gratitude, but from the connection that gratitude makes space for.
And this is what it all boils down to: gratitude is powerful when felt, but it is unstoppable when shared. We all know how a compliment or recognition can change our days for the better, but what happens when you send or receive a random act of gratitude? Well, I’ll encourage you to get curious and try it out for yourself - but if you’d rather take my word for it, it allows even the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes or so.
This is your parting challenge (if you like that sort of thing) or gift (if you prefer that) as 2019 comes to a close; we’ll call it Operation Gratitude:
In the words of Albert Schweitzer, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
Thank YOU for being one of those humans for me, even if we’ve only met virtually in this moment — thank you for reading my words, for supporting my heart, for seeing me fully.
(See? Feels pretty wonderful when it comes from the heart. Now pass it on!)
You can find Elyza around Baltimore (and beyond) teaching private ceremonies & mindfulness sessions, publicly teaching yoga at Movement Lab, MPower, and YogaWorks, or sharing her positive light at @yogawithelyza on Instagram. Find out more at www.yogawithelyza.com!