I appreciate my life.
EVERYTHING is an opportunity!
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 retired, lost eighty pounds, escaped depression, and began pursuing my calling as a life coach, author, and Reiki master teacher, 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 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.
- Faith: I am confident that love is the greatest power in the Universe.
- Hope: Universal love is always unfolding the highest good for all, in all, through all.
- Prosperity: My Universal Source is excellent, limitless, and reliable.
- Peace: I relax into all that was, is, and will be.
- Joy: Whatever my circumstances, I know who I am and Whose I am: a unique and precious cocreative expression of the Divine.
What might radical gratitude look like in real life?
Let’s start with the example of cleaning the litter boxes for my three beloved cats, SiddhaLee, Mortimer, and Maisy Jane. My feline family members are far from aloof. They are my constant companions, comforters, playmates, greatest teachers, and—no kidding—coaching assistants. If you are interested in hearing more about their role in holding client-specific sacred space during coaching, visit my VoiceAmerica host page at www.tiny.cc/djwradio and listen to the recording of the February 6, 2013 episode of my weekly radio show, starting at the thirty-one-minute mark.
As anyone who has ever been owned by a cat can tell you, cats require litter boxes. To function effectively, there needs to be at least one more litter box than the number of cats, and those boxes need to be kept clean. With experimentation, I discovered that, ever the overachievers, my three cats require six boxes that need to be scooped free of any refuse morning and night. Those six boxes also need to be emptied completely of all litter, washed out, and replaced with fresh litter once a month.
As the number of litter boxes escalated, at first I was resentful. Why couldn’t they stop being so territorial and use fewer boxes? I perceived the money and time I was investing as excessive and burdensome. Until, a year after he came to live with me, my Mortimer became ill and nearly died. When we pulled him back from the brink of death and he began to grow stronger, it finally hit me: cleaning litter boxes is an act of love. It is a privilege and honor to be able to return a fraction of the love and companionship he and his mates shower on me daily, by handling this hygiene task for them. A funny thing happened; when I chose to shift my energy from resentment to gratitude, litter patrol was no longer a burden. Now I sing and chatter happily to the cats while I move from room to room, ever their faithful, itinerant scooper.
Let’s extend the example to more mundane fare. When I was a young child, I never even dreamed of a miraculous machine that would wash and dry the dishes for me so that all I had to do was put them away. Then we got our first dishwasher. Things were great for the first few months, but then I began taking my new blessing for granted, and before you know it, my brother and I were fighting over who was putting away more dishes and what could be done about it. Not an example of gratitude. Even as an adult, I still found I had days when I grumbled about how much I had to do and how long it took to empty the dishwasher. Now, when I apply the gratitude principle, putting the dishes away is easy, fast, and fun. How cool to have a machine that washes and dries them for me.
This week, I started the dishwasher just before settling down at my kitchen table for my morning meditation. A few minutes later, I realized how comforted I was by the gentle thrumming and splashing sounds of the elixir of life, water, cleansing my life of residue, reminding me that each day, each moment, offers the opportunity for a fresh start. Who knew a dishwasher could be the source of meditative insight? When we choose to look at everything through the lens of gratitude, our perspective is always rose-colored by appreciation.
Speaking of gratitude for technology, how cool is it that I have a computer, printer, and wireless network right in my own home? How could I have ever complained when the printer ran out of ink in the middle of a big job and I had to replace the cartridges? Or my cellphone signal didn’t work so well in the Ozarks? I remember the days when there were no color TVs, personal computers, printers, or cell phones. Now, when any of my technology hits a bump in the road, I repeat an affirmation I learned from Louise L. Hay many years ago, one that still strikes me as funny and so has the added benefit of making me laugh aloud: “Cars and refrigerators do not break down when we are in a good place.” So when things do break down, and I catch myself grumbling, I set my intention to align myself with a better place (gratitude) so I’ll quit wasting my energy in whining and do something constructive (like replacing the empty ink cartridge).
The day after writing this section on gratitude, the Universe sent me a technology “refresher” lesson in the form of twenty-four hours in which it appeared my most recent two years of Quicken financial data had become corrupted beyond repair. I repeatedly practiced deep breathing and clearing myself of all fear throughout the process. This allowed me to access my deepest wisdom and discover the key to resolving the seeming “problem” when even Quicken advanced tech support had given up. Ta-da! It would appear I’ve learned the technology lesson now. Enough with the pop quizzes already!
So many things to be grateful for: clean water; hot showers; healthcare; education; heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer; healthy food; smiles, hugs, and kisses; and physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual abilities.
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 conveying a simple kindness to 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.
Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2018 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.
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