Because Thanksgiving has just passed and The Holidays have started in earnest, many of us are reflecting upon our lives, and what we are thankful for.
Gratitude is the tonic that makes our cups runneth over.
Appreciation for what we receive or what we already have, whether material, emotional, or abstract, fills us up with joy, and spurs us to count our blessings.
The concept of grateful thinking and positive psychology have become buzzwords lately; these theories are studied by mental health professionals and are also practiced by many people in their daily lives.
It is now widely believed that happiness begets more happiness, and that people with a positive outlook on life will reap benefits ranging from more meaningful emotional connections to better physical health.
Undoubtedly, you know people who are embarking upon a “Thirty Days Of Gratitude” quest, or maybe you have done it yourself, or are in the middle of it right now. Keeping track of the many things both great and small that you are thankful for will only enhance your dancing and fill it with real joy.
So how can these ideas be applied to your dance practice?
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
Trust me, you have many!
When I was younger, I was surrounded by drama, both real and imagined. I was literally a starving artist, I routinely wanted things I couldn’t have-including men- and I had really bad taste in men. The ones I always fell for made me cry pretty often. I used to feel like I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough or talented enough. I just wasn’t good enough, period. And speaking of periods, these thoughts always intensified when I was PMS-ing!
Through the wisdom of age, I now look back on these raging emotions I had, and I call bullshit! When I see pictures of myself from that (fairly long) time period when I thought I was pudgy and unattractive, with a despicable round baby face, I now realize I could’ve ruled the damn world…that is, if I knew then what I know now. And believe me when I tell you that I these days, I just wish I had some of that baby-fat collagen still left!
Who is anyone- your family, frenemies, your dance teacher or even the media to tell you that you aren’t good enough? That you aren't beautiful enough, or a good enough dancer?
You are. Take your gilded cup and see it not just as half-full, but as overflowing and enjoy the heck out of it…And Dance Like You Mean It!
ADJUST YOUR ATTITUDE
As far as your dancing goes, instead of comparing yourself to others, measure your progress against your own achievements.
Dancing and the joy you receive from it is not a competition. Even if you believe you are too young, too old, too heavy, will never be a professional or lack innate talent, you are still dancing!
Yes, talent is a gift…but so is merely being able to dance.
Many people do not have that luxury.
People who are injured or infirm can only dream of dancing. There are millions of women who would love to dance that are currently living in countries where dancing is against the law.
Dance for them…as well as to make your own soul sing.
BEING SATISFIED WITH YOURSELF IS NOT BEING COMPLACENT
There is a huge difference between being happy and being smug. If you love yourself, the best way to show it is by striving for greatness.
In the world of dance, as with anywhere else, true satisfaction comes from a job well done, not from resting on your laurels, or skating by while phoning in a performance.
Apply yourself to your dance practice and be the best you can possibly be. Be realistic about your goals and achievements and be thankful for them, but keep challenging yourself.
BEING GRATEFUL MEANS GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
This is not merely good professional behavior; it is also a way of thanking your dance teachers, your mentors, your costume seamstress, or anyone else who has enabled you to dance.
Remember this also includes your spouse, family members or partner; if you are lucky, they are all 100% supportive of your dancing…let them know you realize that they care.
It doesn’t matter if you are a student, a hobbyist or a professional performer- many people have helped you along your dance journey, and by acknowledging this and letting them know you are grateful for the time, knowledge and support they have given you,
you’ll be filling up everyone’s cups!