To live a life of gratitude is to open our eyes to the countless ways we are supported by the world around us.
Seems many have resolutions, words, phrases or commitments for a new year. I shared in my previous post that last year, I held the Zen Proverb of “let go or be dragged.” Yes, I “held” it as an intention. In the process of reminding myself of this intention, many things seemed to change. I can honestly say that 2018 was a lovely year, even thought it had a very rocky start. I had to let go of that, too.
Gratitude is more than an intention for me. It is a way of being, of living, of seeing experiences – mine and others – for what is. “What is” can often be challenging to observe and experience. We are accustomed to jumping in to fix, or clean up whatever is broken, or not going the way we think it should go or be. When we let go, and see what is there (without attachment to specific outcomes), we are free. We are free to see more clearly; free to feel what we feel and free to allow “it” to be as “it is” without judgment, angst or any other action oriented emotion that we may stuff back in, only to stoke more of the same until it becomes toxic.
Sounds easy enough. And it’s not always that easy. I am human and can find myself facing experiences or people, that might trigger something in me (that I wasn’t aware was still there) or I am otherwise vexed by what I observe as their apparent behavior. Both of these can take me away from the essence of myself and keep me from seeing what may be there for me to see or better understand about myself. And, as I am disconnected in those moments, I may not see what is really there in someone’s behavior beyond my own negative feelings. In other words, I may not see with my heart. Compassion would not be the first feeling that arises when I am triggered – not for me and certainly not for the other.
So, how does all of this relate to gratitude? Well, for me it is this way. As I have worked on becoming more of an observer of my life, my experiences – past and present – I see the “what is” as exactly that. It is “what is” right now…in this very moment. There is no need to hang on, become emotionally triggered or jump into the old habits of behavior that many (including me) expected. For all of this, I am grateful. In fact, when I AM triggered or vexed, I am grateful for those moments as they are revealing to me something else that has been “in there” and not yet disinterred for observing and healing.
As humans, we are very powerful. Our thoughts matter; and with our words, our reality unfolds before us. Now that I am clear about the impact of my thoughts, words and actions on my individual experience, I find that observation is even more important. When we slow down to observe; to pause and not react, we find a different response – if any response is necessary at all. That is something for which I am deeply grateful.
Gratitude is being grateful. Gratitude is taking the time to offer a “thank you” to another person or to the Creator (God, Spirit or whatever you call him/her). Gratitude is a celebration. Gratitude is life. Gratitude is love.
“When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.”
– Elie Wiesel
The greatest “thank you” we can offer is expressed in one of my favorite quotes from Meister Eckhart.
If the only prayer you said was “thank you”, that would be enough.