“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is Tip #3 (of 7) in my Wholehearted Living Series. In Tip #1, I talked about celebrating past lives, how every breath you’ve taken so far helped to land you here. In Tip #2, I talked about how every single moment contains a choice – YOURS!
So…this is an easy one, right? Of course, it is. Even if you have, in the past, taken things for granted, it should be easy, now, at this stage of the game, to look back and see the things that you are grateful for. It should be even easier to start a daily gratitude list. Taking stock. Adding to your list every day. Seeing the glimmers.
So, start there. Get out a journal, open a tiny notepad, pop open your tablet or your laptop or your phone….jot down the things you are grateful for today. It’s good stuff.
Here’s where it gets sticky. Go beyond the things that glimmer. Get outside the “oh, these are the wonderful things” box. Look at every single piece of your life on this Fair Earth, and practice being grateful. See the slimy moments. See the terrifying moments. See the dirty, guilty, holy crap this is awful moments….and practice being grateful. First…why? Because, as Mr. Emerson says…all those things got you here. Every single one. Every choice. Every past life.
If you need help with this concept, review Tip #1 and Tip #2. The reason those two tips preceded this one is because I wanted you to take a good clear look and really SEE. Every Thing that has happened…every life you have lived, every choice you have made…has brought you here. Every person, place, and thing you have encountered…Every action you have taken. BROUGHT YOU HERE. And when you learn to practice gratitude, even for the stuff that made your skin crawl, you are learning to open up to your life, rather than close up, clench up, resist, refuse, and wish away.
Believe me; I know this one can be tough. Be gentle. Listen to your Wise Self. If you hit a bump that seems insurmountable, ask for help, or LEAVE it ALONE. Always Always Take Care of Yourself.
Now…. how? Look back on the words that I used. I said PRACTICE; I did not say FEEL. For most of us, looking at some of the sketchier moments of life is really hard, and the idea that we should feel grateful for those things sounds more than crazy. And it is crazy. Honestly. You and your brain have a long history of feeling BAD about certain people, places and things in your life.
Feeling grateful is a radical deal, and it’s one that doesn’t come automatically. We need to practice gratitude first.
TRY THIS: Every day for a week, sit quietly and recall a person, place, thing, event or action that causes you some consternation or discomfort. Let it be something fairly mild but something that you really can’t quite imagine feeling grateful for. Check in with your body. If you start to feel overwhelmed, take some deep breaths in through your nose and breathe out slowly through your mouth. Remember that this stuff is only in your mind at this point. You’re safe in your cubby hole, bedroom, car, or favorite chair.
Everything is fine.
When you can move forward (and it might take a few tries), start to pull the threads apart. Let yourself see how, without this thing, you would not have found your way here. And HERE is exactly where you are supposed to be.