Guest Post: Radical Gratitude
Gratitude comes most easily for me when the sun is shining and I'm swimming in the sea, dancing with the leaves, or drinking in the wild air.
But what if I could practice gratitude all the time? What if I could appreciate the world for the beauty it holds, right now, in every moment? And when the now moment doesn't always look like the shining sun or dancing leaves? Then what?
I'm reminding myself to practice some radical gratitude this week. Will you join me?
I am grateful for this small scratch on my knuckles that stings and smarts. I am grateful because it made me look down at my hands and realize what I can do with them! I have both healthy hands to type these words on the screen, pet my dogs, pull the fire hose off the engine, wipe away tiny tears, and hold the hands of those I love.
I am grateful for long lines at the grocery store. They make me have to stop and pause in my day. This long line helps me recognize my impatience. Wow, how did I get so impatient? I close my eyes for a moment and take a deep breath. That's better. I even remember that I enjoy people watching. So many colorful folks. I can even stretch my calves as I lean in against the shopping cart. As I sink into my pause, I remember that I am grateful that I live in a time and place where I can buy whatever it is that I need and want. Do I even want all this stuff? Thank you, long line, for making me pause.
Grateful for rude drivers? Hmm not so sure about that one! They bring up some pretty foul and creative language to my lips. It actually makes me giggle at how I sound. They got a rise out of me. I'm going to say that foul thing again - as loud as I can! Ah, that feels so much better. I needed that. Can I let it go now?
I am grateful for getting exasperated. I am grateful for gritting my teeth at the way I wish things could be--whether at work, at home, or in the world. It means I care, and I want to make things better! I have ideas and drive and purpose! In my exasperation, I feel alive! Let me channel that exasperation and frustration into creative and innovative solutions.
I am grateful for dramas with friends. They make me take stock in what is going on inside of myself. Can I practice empathy and authentic expression of my feelings? Or maybe I've put someone up on a pedestal. That's unfair; they are human too, I realize.
I am grateful for my bills. I have bills to pay, because I use services-water, electricity, modern conveniences that make my life easier. I have bills to pay, because I buy goods that I believe will serve me. If I don't want those things, I have a choice in the matter. Thank you, bills, for all that enhances my life.
I am grateful for the contrast of things I absolutely do not want, or do not agree with. They sharpen my vision of what I do want and inspire me to strive towards those things. Sometimes it is in knowing what we don't want, that we figure out what we do want.
I am grateful even for personal tragedies and illness. Events like these may make us stop and appreciate many things in our lives, down to small details. They can remind us of what is really important to us. They may cause us to begin anew in some way. Maybe events of this magnitude bring us clarity and new direction.
I am grateful for failures, loss, natural disasters, horrible acts by my fellow humans, and crooked politicians because they challenge me to action and problem solving. They cause me to decide what is really important to me, to my children, to the future. They challenge me to seek change. They may even challenge me to forgive myself and forgive others.
Thank you scratch on my hand, long lines at the stores, rude drivers, exasperation, impatience, bills, dramas with friends, failures, tragedies, and disasters. I see that gratitude can be found in all of you--as well as in the sun, the sea, and the air.
If I really look, I can find gratitude everywhere.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more about living a fulfilling and authentic life, please visit my website at http://www.braveandawake.com and get a sneak peek at my soon to be released book, also called Brave and Awake.