Choosing Contentment and Gratitude

Lucy gazing out the window

“Inhale peace; exhale gratitude,” says Julie, the yoga instructor, as we settle in for our yoga practice. Deep breathing is a way to calm yourself if you feel an anxiety attack coming on. Deep breathing is also a way to calm yourself after a hectic day helping your body relax enough to sleep at night. I enjoy repeating Julie’s mantra, “Inhale peace; exhale gratitude,” as I do deep breathing on my own. In Philippians 4:6, Paul tells the church in Philippi not to be anxious. In verse seven, he speaks of the “peace that transcends understanding.” In I Thessalonians 5:18, Paul says to “give thanks in all circumstances,” so the second part of the mantra “Exhale gratitude” also goes along with Paul’s teachings.

Charlie with his ugly monkey

Furthermore, Philippians 4:8 promotes positive thinking to help us let go of our anxiety and find peace. To help me with that, I keep a gratitude journal in my nightstand. After a particularly rough day, I force myself to write down three things for which I am thankful. Admittedly, my dogs often make it to the list. However, since my students come from third-world countries, I often find myself writing down things like indoor plumbing and reliable electricity.

Indoor plumbing

Still, I find that pausing to breathe as I repeat to myself, “Inhale peace; exhale gratitude.”is the best way to slow down my inner turmoil and the negative chatter in my hear. I have to actively choose to follow Paul’s teachings. I choose contentment and gratitude.

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