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“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart
As I live my life and experience things I hadn’t planned on or even been able to imagine happening in my life, I am revisiting gratitude. It’s a popular subject, I’ve written about it previously. So it seems that there is nothing left to say. But, as with all things, we can always go deeper, there are always more layers to uncover.
I’m not interested in preaching, that’s not why I am writing this article. Because you either choose to become grateful and appreciate the people and things in your life or you don’t. It’s your path and I accept your choice.
This is about sharing my journey. Maybe it resonates with you.
Lately, as the layers are coming off the proverbial onion, I am sometimes simply overwhelmed with gratitude. Bowled over, breathless, moved to the core of my soul.
As I look at my child or the man I love, I literally can feel ecstatic with gratitude for their presence in my life, for the gift of seeing their faces.
Sharing a cup of coffee with someone I love can be so beautiful that it takes my breath away. Smelling freshly cut grass, tasting that first bite of chocolate or sip of apple-juice.
Recognizing that the wheels of my car are safely taking me to my destination. Watching birds sing to each other. Getting a phone call or text from a friend…..
Sometimes in quiet moments, I become aware of the gift of my body….the way it works, how many years we have traveled this earth together, the wide range of feelings I experience through it, the beauty my eyes allow me to see, the foods my mouth has tasted, the many tasks my hands perform…….it’s nothing less than a miracle. I now appreciate this body, after years of bestowing upon it regular, steady doses of belittling, criticizing, hostility, hatred and all manner of ugliness.
Those intense feelings of thankfulness lately have caused me to re-evaluate gratitude.
This is what I’ve noticed:
I’m more capable at this time in my life to appreciate things I don’t even like. I can see the beauty where before it was all ugliness. I can take more things in stride (that’s never been an easy thing in my life) and know it’ll be ok.
And I’ve realized that even if you haven’t sought gratitude in your life, life will sometimes bring you to it, because you recognize that things could be worse or you could lose what you treasure.
So this is what I have come to understand: as we age, we either begin to appreciate and feel thankful or we become bitter.
You can make that choice!
All of us need constant reminders to keep us on track. We are like little children who have to be told over and over again to close the door or brush our teeth. Only after many years of being told and doing it, does it become a natural behavior for us.
As adults it seems to sometimes take us forever to even remember something that we sincerely want to implement in our lives. Not to mention doing it.
This is what I am offering: A reminder!
But I also want to remind you to be kind to yourself!!! Don’t force yourself to feel appreciative for something that momentarily (or permanently) leaves you feeling frustrated or annoyed. Instead, notice the thing or person that you can be grateful for and focus on that.
Don’t beat yourself up!!! We are so good at that in varying degrees. The first commandment in gratitude law is GIVE THANKS FOR YOUR UNIQUE SELF!!
This is also one of the Ten Commandments: Love your neighbor, AS YOURSELF! Giving thanks for yourself is loving yourself.
You are reading this, therefore you are someone who is already making an effort to live a happier, healthier, more peaceful life. You are on the right path! Now be gentle to yourself and appreciate the little (at times even big) steps you take in your journey on this planet.
In gratitude for your presence in my life!
“Until you heal the wounds of your past, you are going to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex; But eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of your pain that is holding you in your past, the memories and make peace with them.” Iyanla Vanzant
I couldn’t say it any better.
This is the truth!
In all my years on this planet, I have not found an easier solution.
Most of us will not experience God’s grace the way Paul did in the Bible (1 Corin 15:10) Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is a miracle that shifts our old way of thinking and makes us new.
Most of us will have to do the work while practicing faith and patience.
It will be different for each of us, but we have to deal with the wounds. We cannot cover them with a smile or false laughter; they will find a way to creep into your life when you least expect them.
This life, your life will reflect your choices made from that unconscious state created by your wounds.
Each day you are faced with choices. Your life, as it is now, is made up of choices that you made in the past.
These choices will ultimately reveal the real you.
The sum of your life will show your thoughts, your beliefs, your character.
Do you choose to care about others, or only about your pleasure and comfort? Do you choose to try to get by, take shortcuts or put in the time and effort? Do you choose to stay open and learn or do you stay with your fixed perspective? Do you choose gratitude or complain and find fault? Do you choose lies or honesty? Do you choose defensiveness over vulnerability?
What has happened in your past?
If you discover that you are living a selfish life, ask for courage and look at what happened that made you feel so empty that you cannot consider others! Open this horrible, deep wound of rejection and abandonment within you, look at it (you will need help from someone), shine some light on it and begin the healing.
I’m not going to promise that doing the work means that you will live happily ever after, but you will find a deep peace and joy that will forever elude you if you choose denial. You will discover a strength and a faith that will help to create a richer, more meaningful life.
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Gratitude turns what you have into enough. When you are in a grateful state of mind, you’ll feel more positive, life is better and you’ll start attracting more positive people and circumstances. Thankfulness is an attitude that you can practice and develop. The whole experience of gratitude—is really about forcing ourselves to pay attention to the good things in life, things we’d otherwise take for granted. Start a journal about feeling grateful. I don’t think it’s necessary or even all that good to write every single day. There is the tendency to get numb to all the good things in our lives. It is similar to the numbness we develop when watching too much violence and suffering.
Start by feeling grateful for being alive. Give thanks for your body, even if you don’t like everything about it. Imagine not having this body, imagine not being able to touch, see, feel and hear the life around you. Now look at your hands! Appreciate all they do and feel. Feel your skin as you rub that lotion in, notice as you touch that fuzzy blanket, your furry pet, that round stone from the beach. Hug someone in your family or a friend and really feel them. Do that with your eyes, your ears, your sense of taste and smell………..
So pay attention to your senses! What are you seeing? Notice the things you normally take for granted, like the colors of the flowers or the glistening of the snow. Notice the details in the landscape you see every day. Look at it with new eyes.
Listen, especially when it is quiet. Can you hear the wind rustling the leaves in the tree? Do you hear that dog barking? If he annoys you, imagine not being able to hear anything? That joy of hearing the birds in the morning. People laughing, a song you love, the sound of your kids’ voices……….notice the sounds of life all around you.
Enjoy the taste of your food. We usually gobble our meals without really considering what we are eating or drinking. Savor your food, anything can become a feast if you slow down and appreciate the flavors.
Smell that fresh coffee in the morning. The air right after it rained. The food, the flowers, that perfume you love, the smell of a newborn.
If it all gets to be too much, you are overwhelmed and no amount of goodwill is going to make a difference: get away! Leave the house, the job, the kids, maybe the country. Take some time off. Explore a different way of life. It’s ok, we are all just doing the best we can.
Avoid the trap of being grateful for something that is better than what other people have. Instead, compare whatever you are grateful for and imagine how you would feel if you didn’t have it at all. What if you wouldn’t have that family, those friends, or even your problems. What if you had Steven Hawkins’ problems, or President Obama’s or even your neighbor’s or friend’s problems? Practice gratitude and appreciation for everything in your life: people, abilities, experiences, our planet, plants…..the list is endless.
Usually our best memories are made when we are playful, light-hearted. Realize beauty in every moment, and in everyday activities. Make time for those moments. Be spontaneous. The most playful people are the ones who are most “tuned in” to the present. They’re so fascinated by the world at the moment that they’re always finding ways to engage it! For me one of the best ways to have fun and be completely present is boogie-boarding. It is pure joy to feel the water against my skin as I glide along on the wave.
People who have a strong sense of gratitude and count their blessings are generally happier and healthier. It is tough to feel thankful when things aren’t going right and you are stressed to the max. For that reason it is absolutely essential that you take a deep breath, get in the moment and find something to appreciate. You may tell me that I don’t understand because your deadline is in 5 minutes or the house is on fire……. but I maintain as long as you are physically safe – stop, breathe and find something good about your life right now. Like the old saying goes, “The past is history, the future is a mystery, and the present is a present”.
I love this prayer from Unity Church:
The light of God surrounds me;
The love of God enfolds me;
The power of God protects me;
The presence of God watches over me.
Wherever I am, God is and all is well.
It helps me to become present, to know that in this very moment I have all I need and everything is well. The world will not end because I am late for my appointment or I forgot to send that email. Choose Gratitude!
- Become present. Know that in this moment all is well.
- Relax! You can’t appreciate anything when you are stressed
- Pay attention to your senses.
- Every once in a while get away from it all.
- Be playful!
To become a grateful goddess contact me.