How is it that gratitude can be so hard to sustain on a continual basis? We know intellectually to be grateful but so often this seems to disappear in a wave of frustration, complaining, or wishing things were other than they are. What is the key to releasing the gratitude that is inside us? Because tied to gratitude is our joy at being alive.
Certainly taking a moment to say something you’re grateful for helps set the mood and bring gratitude out from the depths.
And reducing your reliance on consumer culture definitely helps open the springs of gratitude. There is something about too much stuff that simply makes us unhappy. It’s as if keeping track of too many things starts to erode our natural joy and turns us into worriers. When my son gets into a spiral about what toy or thing he lacks, most times I’m able to stop the tidal flow of these negative thoughts by telling him, “We have everything we need because we have each other.” That may not work so well with a thirteen year old though!
Believing everything happens for a reason also helps to focus on the blessings hidden even in things that are trials. What did you learn when something difficult happened? Can you feel grateful for what you learnt? Can you see it as an opportunity for learning? Time will reveal what to be grateful for, and maybe we can withhold judgement until time can show us what this is.
Can we also see life as a story not to take too seriously? Can you enjoy things as if you are an actor in a movie? If we are so attached to outcomes, then are we fully enjoying the process? Appreciation is the second cousin to gratitude, and if we can start with appreciation, then that is a step towards embracing gratitude.
And time… can we slow down our daily life? The pace of modern life often doesn’t open the window to having gratitude come in, because there simply isn’t time.
But there is another side to gratitude, that gratitude is like a river running through us and all around us. It’s only our ego that may stop us from putting our feet fully in the river. Our ego that wants to be right, or feel important, or is scared, or feels like a victim. Because the world is full of incredible beauty and connectedness between all things. Yes, bad things happen, but so much of that is from ignorance and confusion. And when things are stripped away, when clutter and noise are dispersed, then we can fully feel this river running through us. And at the very bottom of the river, like the rocks that the river runs over, we can feel the gratitude that comes just from being alive – and that this gratitude anchors us to the world and to each other.