Let us talk about the attitude of gratitude today. I wrote my first book on this too and let me tell you that out of everything that I’ve ever done spiritually or on the basis of self development, the pure moment of experiencing gratitude deeply for the first time without even trying that hard and just watching how my life changed at that moment felt so different. Now it didn’t all of a sudden become perfect but it surely has changed forever. Some years later, while I was on a spiritual retreat, my teacher at that time, who I deeply respect, love and am grateful to him forever for guiding me for so many years, he explained to us the meaning of a really great quote by Meister Eckhart, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” When I heard this quote, my life changed again as I realized how simple it all can be. If you all take this quote for what it’s worth and consider the potential truth of this statement, it actually explains to you how powerful the feeling of deep gratitude is.
DAILY DOSE OF GRATITUDE
We all have a lot of things to do everyday, manage a lot of errands, our professional lives, household chores, debts, returns and what we are required to focus on. Sometimes I need to clear this deck but I’m not in a position where I can sit down, close my eyes or meditate or go to the beach or do anything else to lift my spirits. We are surely busy but if we try, we can have a deep profound experience of gratitude in moments. It’s so completely accessible all day long, all you need is a willingness to focus on it. But it really does need deep focus because the higher level of gratefulness is never accessible by just putting a checkmark next to it or by skipping over the depth that is available. It could simply be one person, a situation or any small thing you are grateful for. The reason behind why you are thankful, is not important. You could just look at the sun and be grateful for it’s warmth. I mean it doesn’t have to be a deep intellectual thing but this mystical idea or process lies in it’s simplicity and not in the complication.
It’s an interesting conundrum, just like a Zen coming on and we wonder how a spiritual experience can be so easy. It’s like that thing which is right in front of you but cannot be seen. It’s like those days when you are looking for something and you know you just put it there, it might have gotten moved around but you know it generally was kept there. You remember seeing it yesterday, then you walk away and do something else and when you come back, you find it exactly where it was. And you are like, wait a second, is somebody playing a prank on me. So that’s where awareness and presence is…it is so easily accessible.
PRACTICING SELF AWARENESS
Practicing self awareness on it’s own can leave you feeling so free. Remember, it does not need to be complicated at all, it can be simple, true and real, just the way gratitude is. We all know and understand how good it feels to appreciate ourselves, life, breath, abundance, safety, comfort, kindness, compassion, love. I mean there surely is a human connection in all this. We have so much to be grateful for – family, friends. Most of us have an abundance of pretty good things in our lives and if we are willing to stop to appreciate all of it, everything becomes so simple.
We don’t have to change the outer layer to have an inner experience. A simple example of how we breathe all day long and realize how each breath we take keeps us alive and what if we became aware of it and what if we felt and stayed with that breath always and also be grateful for it as well? It’s not only about being aware of it but actually appreciating it and you would realize how that simple idea if practiced throughout the day, could change every moment and you would feel stress free every single day of your life.
VARIOUS REASONS TO BE GRATEFUL
To explain it a little further, we all experience something every now and then, that kind of hits us and makes us feel what a big deal that was. Could be an unwell family member, or maybe we are not feeling well ourselves, or a sad story we’ve seen on some news channel or heard it from a friend, it could be something that we read online or we could just be dealing with some stress. It could also be someone or something that cut you off on the highway and you end up realizing that just a few inches were left and you got saved from a major accident. All this leaves you with the realization of how quickly life changes and you have so many things to be grateful for. Such situations occur in the lives of people all around but we have a hard time believing that it actually happened.
Yet, despite the potentially tragic circumstances which we experience, we still find innumerable reasons to be grateful for. Like so many of you, even I’ve lost many people I loved dearly, to physical death or because they moved away or we haven’t spoken in the last 20 years. But this doesn’t mean that I don’t have any connection with them just because they have passed away. We might miss them deeply but the feeling of what that person meant to you, never goes away. You can still be grateful for having them in your life and even if they are not there with you in person, you can still talk to them just the way I talk to my friends and family who are not there with me anymore. Even if I don’t have their physical company, the deep love I have for them is still very much alive.
DON’T WE LOVE THE FEELING OF LOVE?
When we talk about the practice of gratitude in grief, loss or pain in comparison to love and appreciation, tell me if I’m wrong but are the experiences of stress, pain and worry better or does the feeling of appreciation feel better? Isn’t it a pretty simple answer? I mean don’t we all know the truth? It does feel better to be loved and appreciated rather than feeling stressed and worried.
GRATITUDE IS A RARE GEM
Gratitude is one of my gems. I think it’s the best way and it’s not about what technique you use but it surely changes your state for the better. There always have been and there always will be people who would willingly look for that feeling. They would explore, research, experience it, break out of their shell to put in a little more time and effort into something as simple as a self awareness program. The best movie that you can ever see is your own life and gratitude is such an easy and simple way to change your state, feel better and improve your lives everyday. It’s like a job where you sometimes feel terribly stressed and you don’t want to do it anymore and then you practice self awareness and decide to be with those feelings of stress. Such stress is bound to happen as our lives keep changing quickly, stress is created immediately and things become hard and painful. It could be a relationship or a health issue and not necessarily be a job related problem. But if you experience that kind of stress for a certain period of time, it is sure to have a long lasting effect on you. That is the law of compounding. Anything you experience for a long period of time will have a consequence, so what if you start practicing self awareness and gratitude so that it in turn changes your life for the better and makes it fun.
I’ll sum up our conversation with a quote that has left me thinking and you can surely pray or meditate over it – “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder” – G.K Chesterton.