Every morning one of the first things I do is to write down at least five things I have to be grateful for in my life. I have been doing this for years now. So many people I know do this in November in preparation for Thanksgiving, but every day is a day to give thanks, not just one month. So why not give thanks every day. Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance writes five things every night, but at night I am too brain dead to clearly think about what I am grateful for, so I write mine first thing in the morning as I sip on my morning coffee or tea.
It is not so much about when you give thanks but that you do. It is not so much about how much you have but your recognition of it and ability to give thanks for it. It is so easy to give thanks when life is going well. However, when we are going through a challenging time, sometimes it is hard to give thanks. It is hard to give thanks when you are going through. Yet this is the very time it is most important because doing so helps us to see how blessed we are. Practicing gratitude keeps us mindful that we have everything we need, even when it may not feel like it. For example, for three months of each year, I have little to no income. I can work on saving each month, but then the financial drought season hits. It is a frustrating time as life feels like window shopping. There are so many things I see that I want to do or would like to have, but they are not a necessity, so they stay where they are behind the window. It is in those moments that I have to stop and give thanks and remind myself or be reminded by my wife that we have an abundance. Even when it feels like we are struggling, we are living in a space of abundance. Read More
A few weeks ago, at our Living the Five Agreements group we were talking about gratitude from a Toltec Perspective. We read a paragraph from Sheri Rosenthal’s book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Toltec Wisdom. One of the points she made was that from a Toltec perspective Warriors do not see experiences as good or bad, but instead as learning experiences. Her writing reminded me of a piece of wisdom my Bubby shared with me that I was to seek the blessing in all situations and circumstances. There is a lesson in every moment of life she would tell me. See the lesson. Who knew that my Bubby, who had never heard of Toltec wisdom, knew that this is what she was teaching me. Read More
I am not quite sure who said the last thing to discover water would be a fish is, but whoever it was, thank you. Sometimes we are like the fish, it is not until you take us out of our fish bowl that we become conscious of all the blessings in our life. Thich Nhat Hanh in his book Peace Is Every Breath, tells the story about how he remembered to be grateful for the water when the plumbing broke down. Sometimes I forget to give thanks for the electricity, until we have a power outage. I forget to give thanks for my dishwasher until it stops working. I had forgotten what a gift it is to go to the bathroom until I woke up one morning and was unable to urinate. How many things happen in our daily lives that we forget to give thanks for or do not even think of as blessings until we are suddenly and unexpectedly deprived of them Read More
Every faith tradition has a teaching about how gratitude balances out greed. One of my favorites can be found in Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche’s book The Way of the Buddha. In it he writes, "At the time of Buddha Sakyamuni, a monk found himself in possession of a marvelous jewel that granted any wish — all the gold, silver, and precious stones you could ask for. The lucky owner thought: 'I am a monk and have no need of all these riches. Better to give this jewel to a poor person. But there are so many of them, why favor one over another? Buddha is omniscient. He will tell me whom to give it to.' So, going to Buddha, he explained his difficulty and asked him to designate a fitting recipient. Buddha Sakyamuni recommended that he give it to the king of that area, a very wealthy and powerful monarch. The monk made the offering, and the king accepted it, inquiring about the reason for the gift. The monk explained, 'I thought I should give this gem to a poor person, but not knowing whom to choose, I asked Buddha Sakyamuni. He advised me to bring it to you.' " Read More
On November 1st, our Love and inspiration gathering had a powerful discussion about gratitude. We talked about how gratitude, when practiced, has the potential to be the tapestry of our lives. Everything we give thanks for leads to something else. For example, we talked about giving thanks for indoor plumbing, which led to us giving thanks for our showers, our toilets, our dishwashers, all the appliances that use water. This led to us giving thanks for those that have given to ensure water flows into our homes, which led to a discussion of how often we take things for granted. It is not until our water is shut off for some reason, albeit temporarily that we realize how grateful we are for having it and when it is restored, we are immensely grateful. How rarely do we think about all the people in this world who cannot just get up and get a glass of water? Those who do not have access to clean water? Those who have to walk for miles to even bring water to their families. It is when we stop and follow the thread that we begin to have a deeper understanding not only of what we are grateful for, but why we appreciate it as much as we do. Read More
This quote from Lao Tsu brought me back to my childhood and all of a sudden, I can hear myself as a child singing, “She’s got the whole world in her hands. She’s got the whole wide world in her hands. She’s got the whole wild world in her hands. She’s got the whole world in her hands.” Whenever my Bubby and I would sing this, she would remind me the Ultimate did not have a sex or a gender. The Divine could be male, female, and everything in between. Because of this, she would say, we could sing it she or he.
Perhaps more importantly, she would always use this song to remind me that when I kept the Ultimate close to me, then I would never lack for anything. She would remind me that the Divine would provide me with everything and anything I needed in my life and that I would never lack anything essential to my purpose in life. Read More
Lately, others have invited me to participate in some interesting blogging challenges. This week was no different. For the next 26 weeks, I will be blogging my way through the alphabet. When I asked some of our Facebook and Twitter followers for some A words as inspiration for this week’s blog, you offered me appreciation, awareness, agreements, attitude, asparagus, and anchovies, in no specific order. While the last two might seem a stretch in terms of this particular reflection, the more I thought about these letter words, the more I realize that they were, in their own unique way, related.
One of our followers suggested the word appreciation because she said she appreciated everything Inspiritual does for our readers, members, and followers. While we too appreciated the feedback, I realized that being able to be grateful and appreciate someone else’s actions, words, or behaviors was in part about awareness and attitude. If one is not have an attitude of gratitude about the blessings in one’s life, then one cannot appreciate the fullness and richness of those blessings. Read More
Maintaining an attitude of gratitude is one of those things which most people find relatively easy to do when things are going well in their lives. When you have a secure and well paying job, it is easy to give thanks. When your relationship is stable, it is easy to give thanks. When you are doing well health wise, it is easy to give thanks. The problem is that most of us have those days in our life when our job may be at risk, or we may be worried about trying to find one. Read More
It’s funny how sometimes those one hit wonders from your past come back and speak to you spiritually. For some reason I have found myself hearing the tune to Don’t Worry, Be Happy playing in my head. It is hard to be fully living when we are spending our time worrying. If I were to write the song today, I would call it Don’t Worry, Live Fully!
I found the lyrics to the song and realized they are just as relevant now as they were then.
Here is a little song I wrote Read More
We all go through times in our journey which if given the choice, we might choose to avoid. It is at times like this when I tend to hear my Bubby’s voice reminding me that when you can see the good in a bad situation, then you know you are going to be ok. I have done this with Zoë’s cancer diagnosis, during the times my son has struggled (like last night), during my struggle with Liftline, etc. As I have made a list of the blessings in each situation, the way I see them, what I choose to believe about them shifts from an Eeyore attitude to an attitude of gratitude. The more I focus on what I have to be grateful for, the more I realize how much I have to be grateful for. It is as if gratefulness begets gratefulness begets gratefulness. Read More
Quite some time ago, I gained an understanding about the importance of gratitude. It is amazing what happens to our view of the world when we acquire an attitude of gratitude and begin to look at the world through its eyes. It seems as if the more one finds to be grateful for, the more you see things for which to give thanks. It is this ever-growing experience. Being mindful of one thing for which to give thanks seems to give birth to some other thing for which to give thanks, which gives birth to something else and so on and so on. Read More
I was once asked what inspires me and the answer is everything. For me there is something spiritual in everyday life. Even the mundane act of taking out the trash can be spiritual. For the last few days, however, I have been thinking about stumbling and what a powerful spiritual experience that was for me. There is probably not anyone who has not physically stumbled at one point or time in his or her life, especially as a child. We stumble, and sometimes we fall and for the most part we get back up again. Sometimes when we stumble, it is easier to get back up again then others. Sometimes we stumble and we feel the impact of that stumble for days, sometimes weeks. Read More