An Attitude of Gratitude
We have reached a pivotal point in time. We are in a crisis of radical change. The optimist in me says that when the dust settles, we’ll be in a BETTER (though not yet perfect…) place. But in the meantime…. OMG is everything complicated.
Between various news sources, my social media connections, and “information” I get from people I just talk to from time to time, I am awash in conflicting information. So called Experts, whose job it is to clarify this information into actionable little nuggets, are often at odds with each other. And even If I KNOW in my head that one is clearly correct and the other is not, part of me still asks all those “what if?” questions. The result? Ed Parker, the founder of American Kenpo karate would call it “analysis paralysis”. Too much info, too much thinking.
This paralysis can make us feel drained, powerless. It makes us tired just thinking about it. Our wheels constantly turn in our head, so to speak. But we don’t get anywhere.
So what to do?
Yoga philosophy deals with it at some length. In fact the Yoga Sutras, written by Patanjali a little over 2000 years ago, talks about “calming the streams in Consciousness” in the 2nd stanza. I’d highly recommend a perusal of the Yoga Sutras if you have an hour or so to spare. (Hint, you have the hour…)
I’m gonna share with you the “trick” I use when I’m going to bed. I do whatever pre-bed time routine things I do. And just after I kiss my wife and son goodnight, I start in on reciting……. A list.
I mentally go through a list of things I am thankful for. I start with obvious things, My almost 3 year old. My Wife. The house I live in. The bed I lay on. The air I breathe, the food I ate. (Have you stopped to think about the VARIETY of food we have access to?). I address this list to God, but you don’t have to. It’s enough to just take note, and say thanks.
So, like any contemplation practice, if you’ve never done it, there will be some challenges. At first, it might be hard to stay focused. This sort of thing is very threatening to the part of our Egos that want to be in charge. So, if your thoughts wander off topic, just gently come back to making your list. It’s important that you don’t berate or yell at yourself. Just gently come back to your list.
The other difficulty people sometimes have, is they run out of stuff to be thankful for. This is usually not because they don’t have anything, so much as they’ve become accustomed to not perceiving how much they have. Think about all the people that have it harder than you. Every Breath is a gift. Nature is full of beauties to be thankful. Even the distant streetlights, or the way heat makes light shimmer on a hot day are beautiful, and you can be thankful.
It might feel sort of fake at first. Do it anyway. It will gradually start to feel more legitimate. You’ll start noticing that there are still good things happening in the world. Let me know how it’s going after 30 days. If you’re not satisfied, I’ll give you your money back. Oh yeah, this was free. There’s something else to be thankful for!