Meister Eckhart wrote those wise words. They, in their simplicity, provide a lesson for all of us. We often lose sight of the many reasons we have to be grateful and thankful. Our once a year Thanksgiving Day toast is nice but hardly enough. Every day can be thanksgiving, even for the most simple gifts.
Being grateful and thankful increases our levels of happiness and engenders a sense of well-being. Many writings on happiness recommend that we make a list of our blessings, write them down, and remember them right before we go to sleep at night, thus helping to pave the way for a peaceful sleep. I find that listing my reasons to be grateful helps me to remember the big and little reasons I have to be thankful. They may include having a comfortable bed for sleeping. Having kind and loving friends. Knowing that my husband is resting next to me. Having the means to enjoy nutritious food and have warmth in the cold winter months. Enjoying an ice cream sundae. Take it from there. You can see how easy it is. And there is a surprise. A miracle surrounds this act of gratitude. Even on your darkest day, in the midst of sadness or grief, you experience a lifting, you can make contact with the light within you.
LESSON FORTY EIGHT
Before I began writing The 52, I blogged on many subjects. This is the one I wrote on gratitude. I like it so much, I decided to include it in The 52.
Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, on the negatives, on the injustices, on the minutia of aggravations that go on, feeling gratitude is, for many of us, another way to think. We can easily find criticism in our everyday life — with the surly driver, the craziness of the political scene, the screaming and disconcerting headlines. That is a slam dunk! Wallow in it if it you must, but don’t forget what is REALLY important. You have a choice!
When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sleep,
and I fall asleep counting my blessings.
When my bankroll is getting small, I think of when I had none at all,
and I fall asleep counting my blessings.
Irving Berlin wrote those lyrics and the song was performed in the film, White Christmas. It is likely that generations of young people have never heard the song, but this does not make the words any less valid. They speak of a sleepy time practice that can bring happiness to the heart. Couldn’t we ALL use a little of that?
Some ways to remember gratitude:
- Make it a nightly practice to either write down or recite to yourself five reasons you have for being grateful.
- Ask a friend to join you in remembering thankfulness. Discuss it with someone. Share the joy.
- Send a note, text, email to someone and tell them you appreciate them and why.
- Call someone on the phone and do the same thing.
- Thank some one for their help or service. It could be the dry cleaner or person who delivers the mail or the one checking you out of the grocery store. Anyone. Spread the joy and gratitude.
- Think of someone you love who touched your life in a deep way. Perhaps someone who has left this plane, died. You can thank them too. Don’t worry. They will hear you, whether you believe this or not.
- Include yourself. Be grateful for the person you are who has done a kindness for another. Applaud yourself simply for being you.
- And there is another to thank. Choose the name you like — God, the Divine, Supreme Consciousness, Allah, the Buddha, Jesus, Shiva. A small thank you is a very big thing.
Many years ago, I learned an unexpected lesson about gratitude when my husband and I traveled to East Africa. As we wandered through a small village near Arusha, Tanzania, we had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of a young man and father who resided in one of the tiny enclaves of mud huts. He spoke English, took us to his home, and became, in the course of a few hours, someone we would call a friend. In this, one of our first journeys into a “third world country,” we felt determined to help him. After returning home, we sent simple gifts to him and his children. Practical items for school, books, medications, cash hidden in places where he would find it. We soon learned some hard lessons. Some of the packages were scrutinized or stolen. To our horror, he was accosted and beaten, his home ransacked in search of special items. In time, we heard no more from him. We were deeply saddened and worried that our naive generosity had led to misfortune. Why would I tell this story now? Because I am grateful to be in a country where this is much less likely to happen. Because I never forget to be thankful for the freedoms we so blithely enjoy. Because I have a long list of thank you’s and, in many places in the world, what I take for granted is not so possible. I still wonder what happened to that bright and hopeful young man…
The playwright, Thornton Wilder, said this:
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
What are your treasures? What makes you thankful? Try counting your blessings. You may be surprised at the richness of your life, just as it is right now.
With love and namaste, Deanne
For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com