When we choose to look at everything
through the lens of gratitude,
our perspective is always
rose-colored by appreciation.
I first became acquainted with the idea of a gratitude practice in 1995 through Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance. The book’s core concept was to begin and end each day by naming at least five things for which I was grateful. Some days the list overflowed with twenty-five or more items, evidence of my consciousness of the generosity of the Universe. Other days, when I perceived things as going poorly, I struggled to identify even five things for which I was thankful.
I followed the gratitude practice off and on through the years but abandoned it entirely at the very time when I could have most benefited from it. When I got insanely, stressfully busy in the final years of my consulting career, I left the gratitude practice by the side of the road, having erroneously concluded that I was too busy to be intentionally grateful.
Fast forward to 2010, when I had left consulting, lost eighty pounds, escaped depression, and began pursuing my calling as an empowerment coach and Reiki master, teaching others about the transformative power of falling in love with themselves. Though love, respect, curiosity, and compassion were serving me well in manifesting unconditional self-love, sometimes when my life became especially complex, the judging voice could still take over with its fear-based constricting messages of doom and gloom.
One day, during written meditation, I remembered the power of my former gratitude practice and wondered if it might be the missing link. As I went beyond just a morning and evening event to making it a way of life I call radical gratitude, here is what I discovered.
Love and gratitude serve as the bookends of constructive core energy. Between them, they encompass and support all the other aspects of love: respect, curiosity, and compassion. Love initiates the flow of core energy; gratitude expands it. Love is the originator. Gratitude is the catalyst. Through the eyes of gratitude, we see that everything is an opportunity, a grace-filled gift of Universal love characterized by loving-kindness, elegant beauty, copious generosity, and infinite mercy.
Radical gratitude fosters a life of generous, effortless, gracious flow filled with faith, hope, prosperity, peace, and joy. So many things to be grateful for: clean water; hot showers; technology; healthcare; education; heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer; healthy food; animal companions; smiles, hugs, and kisses; and physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual abilities.
10 Things to Be Grateful For
Yes, we’re thankful for our health, our safety, our loved ones. But what else? What do we take for granted? What moves us? What would fill our hearts daily if we would just notice it?
1. The senses. Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste—daily miracles each of them.
2. The plant world. From the productivity of a late-summer tomato plant to the delicate unfurling of a fern, nature’s exuberance and tenderness is something to behold.
3. Our steady companion, opportunity is always ready to take us down a path yet unknown. (Hint: We have to say “Yes!”)
4. What do your eyes feast on? What splendor makes your soul rejoice? It is all around us every day. How often do you stop to drink it in?
5. The ability to learn. There is no age limit on learning—period. When we stop learning, we really stop living.
6. Young children. They model for us innocence, faith, resilience, playfulness and unconditional love.
7. What music inspires you, lifts your mood? Rock & roll, African drumming, violin concertos, Turkish oud, gospel? A nightingale?
8. The ability to give. Every act of love benefits the giver as much as the receiver.
9. Color. Sunsets, Gauguin paintings, green peppers, blue eyes. Imagine a world without color….
10. Change. It’s unavoidable; the only constant. Change can be unsettling or challenging. But the mystery of it and what lies beyond it can keep us young at heart.
Author’s content adapted under license, © 2008 Claire Communications
The Antidote to Fear
On-the-spot, real-time gratitude is the most powerful antidote I know to fear and any of its ugly cousins—frustration, judging, resistance, jealousy, worry, scarcity, depression, despair, and the like. When I stay centered in gratitude for all of life’s simple blessings, I find it easier to stay anchored there in the more painful times. The friend who dumps me. The spouse who becomes ill. The hurricane that devastates the beloved South Jersey Shore of my childhood. The movie theater mass shooting in my hometown of Aurora, Colorado. Being present in New York City on September 11, 2001, where I spent the night accounting for my missing consulting colleagues. When viewed through the lens of gratitude, even those painful experiences are opportunities for deeper insight, greater compassion, dramatic personal growth, and increased appreciation for the gift of life. In the words of the great sage Kahlil Gibran, “Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”
And, if, on your darkest days, despite your best efforts, you still can find nothing to appreciate, try doing a simple kindness for someone in need. If you are like many, you just may find the hope and gratitude you awaken in another will rekindle the flame of hope and gratitude in your own troubled heart.
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There is no expectation or pressure to hire me as your ongoing coach. Providing meaningful, substantive comp sessions with no obligation is one of the ways I demonstrate gratitude and give back to the Universe a small portion of the abundance and opportunity it bestows on me daily.
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