"I am thankful for being thankful 365 days a year" - A holiday season lesson in gratitude!
With so much desire filling our psyches this time of year, it can be very draining.
We desire for things to be given to us, we desire to make our family and friends happy by giving them things, we desire for merriment and cheer, we desire peace.
Consumerism at its finest. Although I have very strong feelings on that subject, I am not here to share those. I am here to ponder and hopefully inspire you to ponder the following:
As the holiday season approaches, consider the following questions in your own life and in the context of our culture…..
Why do we focus so greatly on what we lack rather than what we have? Why do we spend so much time and energy trying to fix what isn’t, rather than appreciating what is?
It is fairly ironic that one of the most abundant countries in the world arguably has the least amount of gratitude.
Our mind has a very good at attaching to an idea or line of thinking. When we present our mind with the idea that we lack something, it tends to run with it. Next thing you know, you are thinking about all of the things that you lack. Our minds are habitual. Next time you have the thought that you wish you had something that you don’t or that a situation was this way instead of the real present moment, recognize that and shift your thinking to being thankful for something that you do have. We deprive ourselves of a great deal of real human experience by wishing things were different than they are.
For example, a sale catalog came to our house yesterday. Being a fan of this particular store, I was immediately consumed by the fact that my birthday and Christmas are approaching and I “need” several things that this catalog carries. I proceeded to remind my husband that my birthday was coming up and that I would pick out what I wanted for my birthday and circle it. Being the gracious and giving person that he is, he instructed me to number them in order of preference. As I began to pick out the things that I “need” I found myself feeling indecisive and empty. “Well if I get boots in this color, than I’ll “need” them in this color as well”. My desire began to spin out of control. Thanks to my daily practice of self discovery, I was able to recognize what was happening and bring it to a screeching halt. Instead of creating a long list of items I felt pressured to consume due to the “Sale”, my peers, and the deeply ingrained patterns of owning lots of material possessions, I began to shift my focus to gratitude. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my hard-working husband who would be willing had I asked him to buy me things instead of saving his money for our future. I am grateful that he financially supports me while I follow my dream to build a strong and healthy yoga community.
This common story of lust for material things is an opportunity for growth and practicing contentment.
The feeling of lack that we all suffer from is not just material. It translates into many areas of our lives. “Why didn’t that person call me/text me/or email me back?” “I can’t believe so and so is not coming to my holiday party.” Our ego tends to make these scenarios all about us. We feel we are lacking something. Instead of considering the other persons feelings and personal boundaries. Chances are, they may still be processing your request for their energy. They may not have space in their life for your current request, conversation, or invitation. Treating loved ones with compassion and understanding means respecting these boundaries. Be grateful that someone you love has a full, happy, life and isn’t waiting around to jump at your every wish.
The idea of focusing on what isn’t can be very evident in the workplace; as well as, in our close personal relationships. We spend a lot of time wishing that our partner, our boss, or our co-workers had this quality instead of that quality. That these people we come in contact with on a daily basis understood what we think, feel, and believe on a deeper level. What would the world look like if instead we focused on appreciating everyone for exactly who and what they are? The first step to this is loving ourselves for exactly who and what we are.
With everything being available at our fingertips, it is easy to concentrate on what we don’t have. This causes us to freak out when our technology is not available. Do we ever stop to be grateful for having access to these technologies in the first place?
Try to imagine what it might be like for the millions of people in this world that don’t have what we have. Or our ancestors who spent their lives fighting for our freedoms and trying to survive so that we could have all of the things that we have today. What are we doing to show our gratitude for walking this Earth? How are you preparing this space for future generations?
Please share your stories of gratitude in the comments below.