Whenever I need a quick boost of energy or a shift in my attitude, I know exactly what to do. Having a tool in my toolbox that is so reliably transformative gives me confidence that I can find a path to a happy Life regardless of how I’m feeling on a particular day. The tool I lean on and cultivate is something that sounds so simple it’s easy to underestimate its potency. For many years I thought of it as an entirely optional practice, something too ordinary to make any difference.
The tool I’m talking about is Gratitude. The simple and profound act of sitting still and considering the multitude of good things in my surroundings, and taking the time to actually feel my relationship to these good things, is a tonic for every sadness, every frustration, disappointment and negative attitude.
Many of the great spiritual teachings from diverse corners of the world and eras have written about gratitude, recommending it and explaining why it holds such treasures. In the modern era, one of the early writers who influenced many of today’s most well-known teachers was a man named Wallace Wattles. He wrote about gratitude in 1910 in his book The Science of Getting Rich. This very book inspired Rhonda Byrne to create the phenomenally successful film, The Secret, in 2006 – nearly a century after it’s writing. A quote: “The more gratefully we fix our minds on the Supreme when good things come to us, the more good things we will receive, and the more rapidly they will come; and the reason simply is that the mental attitude of gratitude draws the mind into closer touch with the source from which the blessings come.”
Here’s what my personal practice looks like:
- When I awaken, I saw aloud: “Great news! I’m still alive!”
- Before I get up and start my day I sit for a few minutes on the side of my bed and look around. I see the beautiful paintings on my walls. I feel the fluffy comforter beside me, the cozy feeling of my feet in my slippers.
- I tune into the sounds of my home and the outside. The birds may be singing. I may hear my refrigerator running. I may hear the post-woman dropping off my mail, or a neighbor speaking in his driveway.
- I move my imagination into the realm of friendships and family, and recall intentionally the love and kindness that comes my way from so many directions, and usually not because of any particular effort on my part.
- I start to feel Gratitude waking up inside of me.
- I continue, staying on that “frequency” – the particular energetic feeling that the contemplation of Gratitude always brings.
- I begin to think of all that I have to be grateful for: as a woman, as a mother, as an American, as a holistic practitioner, a writer, an artist, dancer, entrepreneur, coach, teacher, sister, daughter, as someone who’s alive in 2018.
- The feeling of Gratitude grows and the thoughts about what I have to be grateful for come pouring in like a steady rushing waterfall.
- Finally, I sit in the feeling that’s been generated. I feel the tingling in my face, the joy behind my eyes, the gentle smile appearing, the open quality to my mind.
- And then I stand up.
- That’s it!
This practice, which I once considered “ordinary,” changes my day completely.
I give thanks for the power of Gratitude – it’s our birthright! It’s free! It’s completely invulnerable – no one can take it away from us. It’s ours to keep. “Hallelujah!” as my Granny would have said. More and more I understand just why she said that so often – I think she was practicing Gratitude.