By: Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist
I have a confession to make …
I have been a bit grumpy lately. Not outright, and not outwardly to others, but out of character for me. The munchkins in my mind have been mighty reactive lately. I have been easily irritable and paltry on patience.
“Wait. What?” Didn’t I just post a two-part blog on A Cup of Compassion? Yes, I did. And, this is where having a practice of living a compassionate life helps. Because others don’t need to be exposed to my grumpy gremlins. So, while inwardly, my mind might be sparking at so many small things, I did my very best to keep my mouth from outwardly speaking in a snit to others.
In retrospect, and through introspection, I understand where my patience veered off the peaceful path. First, there are some deep waters bubbling to the surface that clearly need my attention. Second, I had not been as diligent with my self-care routines for mind, body and spirit because I let myself get too busy for more than a few days. But, when I am very busy is when I most need to take care.
So, I was in dire need of an attitude adjustment.
And, I got one.
As I was confessing and venting my maddening muddle headedness to my acupuncture physician, she simply asked:
“What are you grateful for?”
The question stopped me short. And, immediately created a shift.
What am I grateful for?
While I lay on the table for my treatment, I used the time to meditate on gratitude. And, this change in my focus changed how I felt my body. My sense of stress cleared way for a calming sense of peace.
An attitude of gratitude, not only reframes our perspective, it helps bring us back from the brink of repetitive negative thinking. In Food for Thought, we discussed how chronic negative thoughts can impact not only the wellbeing of our mind, but also our body and spirit.
What are you grateful for?
This subtle change can create a substantial shift to help reframe our focus from negative thinking to the positive potential. It is one way to get ourselves to mindfulness in the moment from a mindless myriad of thoughts.
But, I want to be clear here … focusing on what you are grateful for is not to meant to be used as a diminishment of your feelings. When you are feeling blue, or angry, or anxious and you or someone says “yeah, but you should be grateful for ….” this can invalidate your emotions. And, while how you feel and how you think may be linked, they are actually separate streams of your being.
After I broke my neck, and before I did work to mend my mind and spirit, I had an enormous amount of stress and trauma suffusing my whole being. And, when I mentioned this, I can’t tell you the number of people who patted me on the arm and simply said “well, you should be grateful you are alive.” Well, ummmm, yes. Actually, I was. Very much so.
But, I was struggling while moving forward in a new reality. So, I stuffed the feelings down and slapped a smile on my face because I thought that was expected of the kind of “can do girl” I am. And, that caused some delays in healing my overall wellbeing. Faith, gratitude and positive thinking were vital to my recovery, but dealing with what lay beneath was critical. Two streams of being dealt with simultaneously.
What we are talking about here is simply a another practice of positive thinking for every day things and our every day being so that negative thoughts don’t become chronic negative emotions, and so that any immediate tension in our mind does not feed distress throughout our body.
What are you grateful for?
Researchers have found those focused on gratitude are happier and more optimistic, have a greater sense of wellbeing, less visits to the doctor’s office, and enhanced relationships. Focusing on gratitude is another form of mindfulness – focusing on the now and what we do have, rather than waiting until a later date for something else externally to make us happy.  Studies in positive psychology have also shown a regular practice of gratitude reduces stress, enhances immunity, and promotes a healthier lifestyle. 
With Thanksgiving under our belts, we have been reminded to reflect on our blessings. But, rather than one day, this presents a perfect opportunity to create a personal practice of gratitude, not only for now, but for our ongoing essential wellbeing.
We don’t need to make a big splash, just a simple subtle shift will suffice. As always, using essential oils in your practice can significantly support your whole being creating your own personal aromatic blessings.
Here are some suggestions for how you might incorporate an attitude of gratitude into your daily self-care routine.
As we discussed in in Food for Thought Part II, we can choose a scent, unique to our own needs, to create an aromatic anchor. When we inhale this scent, continually thinking of a positive thought, our brain creates an association.
Later, we can simply sniff the scent to break a negative thinking pattern and bring our mind to our positive thought, also known as an affirmation. In this case, our affirmation would be something for which we are grateful.
Affirmations are always stated positively and in the present tense.
“I am grateful for ______________” (fill in the blank).
Inhale while while you are repeating the affirmation to yourself.
This can work well with a single scent and an personal inhaler to carry with you. In her book “The Blossoming Heart,” Robbi Zeck recommends melissa to support affirmations of gratitude.  You can, however, choose whichever scent is meaningful, uplifting and positive for you.
AN INTENTION OF GRATITUDE
Intentions are another way of keeping us grounded. They can help bring us back to our center if we find ourselves adrift in our thoughts.
You can use a statement of gratitude to set your intention for the day upon waking, and to help turn off of negative thoughts prior to sleep.
This blend helps create a sense of bliss for me, which is the state I want to reach and experience. The combination of this blend with a gratitude intention can help support the mind, body and spirit in reaching a relaxed state. It can be used equally morning and night, and throughout the day either in your diffuser or personal inhaler.
This blend is Kidsafe.
2 drops ho wood
2 drops kunzea
1 drop sandalwood
MEDITATE ON GRATITUDE
You can create a gratitude meditation – a form of mindfulness focused on a positive phrase. When I do a relaxation mediation I often focus on phrases such as peace and calm. Or a phrase such as “all is well.
In a gratitude meditation, I might use “I am grateful for_______” to center my mind as I focus gently on my breath inhaling and exhaling. If you need help getting started, see “M is for Meditation” for some simple steps.
I love this blend for helping to mellow the mind for meditation. These can inspire a sense of peace and calm, while opening the mind for reflection.
1 drop buddha wood
2 drops ho wood
1 drop blue cypress
1 drop ginger co2
KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
For folks who like to make lists, keep a journal, or simply write down their thoughts, a gratitude journal could fill the bill. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, and the entries don’t need to be extraordinary.
Just the simple act of writing down our gratitude thoughts can reinforce our feelings, help us progress toward healthier goals and provide more clarity to the positive things happening in our lives. 
Positive Thinking Blend
I love this blend for unwinding a sense of restlessness in the mind and inspiring a sense of hope to heart and soul. This could be diffused to support your practice of positive thinking.
This blend is KidSafe if you use bergaptine free bergamot such as the one Plant Therapy carries.
3 drops of:
What am I grateful for?
While I can’t say I am grateful for the car accident that interrupted my life, I AM grateful for the opportunity to reshape the trajectory of my life into what is most important to me.
I am grateful for the entire journey that brought me back to natural healing where my passions and ability allow me to express myself in creative, healing ways that help others while creating balance in my own wellbeing.
I am grateful for my loved ones who have supported me in being my authentic me, whether they always saw me as me, or supported me in coming back to me.
And, I am so very grateful for Plant Therapy, and all of you, for creating and sustaining an amazing community, inside and out, in which to gather, share and support in our learning, healing and life journeys.
What are you grateful for?
 Publications, Harvard Health. “In Praise of Gratitude – Harvard Health.”Harvard Health. Harvard Medical School, Nov. 2011. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
 Heubeck, Elizabeth. “Boost Your Health With a Dose of Gratitude.” WebMD. WebMD, 11 Jan. 2006. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
Zeck, Robbi. The Blossoming Heart: Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation. East Ivanhoe, Victoria, Australia: Aroma Tours, 2014. Print.
 Carter, Sherrie Bourg, Psy.D. “The Benefits of Adding Gratitude to Your Attitude.” Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 25 Nov. 2013. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.