We've already shared our healthy spin on classic Mardi Gras recipes and hope that you'll be enjoying some of those today. But what’s the actual significance of this day? It's way more than a precursor to the carnival, which seems marked by drunken revelry and bead-clad stragglers thronging the streets to gawk at floats in a parade.
Almost everyone seems to know that Mardi Gras is French for ‘Fat Tuesday’ and refers to the feasting on traditional creole favorites and all that is indulgent (and delicious -- hello beignets). This is done so that there’s little or nothing left to distract and tempt you from following a path of austerity and fasting should you observe Lent. While the world over, there are variations on the same theme, here in America we have dedicated all of today as Mardi Gras Day.
While the revelers celebrate and everyone focuses on just the party-like aspect of this day, we’d thought we’d draw your attention to how this could be a great opportunity to indulge in some introspection. Whether you’re religious or not, there’s got to be some digging in the deep you can engage in, which will benefit your outlook and general approach to life.
One of those things is gratitude and as human beings, we sure could use some more of being appreciative of all the things we are fortunate enough to have in our lives. Taking things for granted can eventually be a drain on your emotions, your interactions with others and even your health in the long run.
To remedy this shockingly common affliction, here are five easy steps to practice an attitude of gratitude until it becomes second nature:
- Keep A Journal: Keeping track of the things that you wish to give thanks for is easier when you have a written record. Learn to maintain a journal or diary where you list three things each day that you know you are fortunate to have. Sometimes it could just be a simple event that’s occurred to you or the knowledge that you have the ability to walk on your own or breathe without assistance. Some days will be better than others when your lists might run into tens, and other days when even listing those three will be tough. Play it by ear, and you will slowly come to appreciate how lucky you are.
- Take The Time To Notice: Rushing through life with your eyes glued to your phone can lead to your missing some poignant, beautiful moments without even realizing it. That gorgeous sunset, a butterfly perched outside your window or even seeing a stranger suddenly smile at you briefly, are transitory pleasures but have the power to make you stop in your tracks and be happy even if for a fleeting moment. It’s so easy to turn into someone who is egotistic, narcissistic and self-absorbed when we don’t pause to look outside of ourselves.
- Say Something Nice: It can be tempting to be devastatingly clever or biting and cruel when the opportunity arises. Instead, try and swallow the impulse to be hurtful for no reason at all. When you see that someone is struggling or will be deeply affected by an unkind word, hold your tongue and instead, be supportive. You don’t know what they’re going through and if you can’t help, at least don’t harm them. A single, genuinely-felt, kind comment at the right moment has the power to weave more magic than all the empty platitudes you can spout.
- Compare & Share: It’s easy to feel bogged down by imagined woes and perceived slights. Instead when you’re feeling down, just take a second to review how lucky you are to have the things, opportunities and privileges you enjoy. Then if you need further clarity on the bounty present in your life, compare your predicament with the people around you, near or far, who have little or nothing to their name. That should lend a little helpful perspective.
- Let It Go: Feeling sad, stressed out, frustrated, or anxious every now and then is normal and part of life. But sometimes we get stuck in these thoughts and feelings and find it difficult to break free of those vicious cycles of despair and self-loathing. This sounds easier than it is but do try and loosen the hold these moments can have on you. Take charge of your emotions by talking yourself through them and if needed seek help. Some situations are not worth the grief they cause you and are better left behind.
Your life is a gift and no one has more power to make it a beautiful and satisfying one than you do. Gift yourself some attitude adjustment this Mardi Gras, and see how it brightens up not just your world but even that of those who surround you.