As you know, my focus for 2012 is “Create Positive Change.” In contemplating how that applied to emotions, I remembered Aristotle’s “prime mover” – a principle underlying all others. Thinking about various virtues, I asked “and what is underneath that?” Gratitude. For instance – I want to cultivate forgiveness. Where do I start? With gratitude for what is RIGHT about the situation offending me.
Meister Eckhardt said “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
Emmet Fox, in the masterful pamphlet “The Golden Key” suggests that when we are troubled, anxious, fearful, angry, upset that rather than focusing on the cause of our discontent we turn our minds to God. I think God and gratitude are best friends – when I am grateful I am with God. And when I am consciously hanging out with God, I am always grateful – not just for Her beneficence, but for the awareness of the huge gift life is.
A dear friend died last year, 111 days after being diagnosed with cancer. She was only 46. Her short, beautiful life reminded me of life’s transience. And to be grateful for each minute. Each person. Each experience. It’s all there to help me be the best me I can be.
Want to get into the gratitude groove? Here’s a few ideas:
- Go sign up at the Go Gratitude movement site
- Keep a daily gratitude journal. I like to write down 1-10 things for which I’m grateful each night. Use Alice Walker as an inspiration and thank God for the color purple. Or macadamia nuts. Or a day at work in which your co-worker did ZERO annoying things (alright, she had the day off, but still..). Be creative. I have thanked God for things like regular garbage pickup, fish tacos, my sisters and brother – really, there are a zillion things you can be thankful for.
- Say thank you more. Praise is a form of gratitude. I told the bagger at the grocery store that she did a really great job and her smile made me happy the rest of the day – double win!
- Write your gratitude. On Facebook? Pick a friend a day and write on their wall some of the things you love about them. Did a business ‘do right by you’? Go to their website or their Facebook and say good things about them.
- Smile. Just smiling seems to change your attitude, outlook and the way your day goes.
- Read The Happiness Project blog. No, it’s not specifically about gratitude. But happiness and gratitude are cousins, for sure.
I’ll close with a quote from Eileen Caddy, one of the co-founders of Findhorn
“Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.”