“I had the blues because I had no shoes
until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet.”
– Denis Waitely
GRATITUDE. Do you actively appreciate what you have? Do you focus on misfortunes or blessings? What do you hold on to when times are tough?
The constant flow of negative media headlines makes me pause and reflect. I end up feeling a sense of profound gratitude. It prompts me to look at my own life and count my blessings. For example, I recently fell and sprained my hand. I was trying to get a cab in New York City and had my arms full with shopping bags. I tripped as I stepped off the curb and went flying down into the concrete with all of my goodies spilling around me. It was quite a scene. People stopped to see if I was okay. Since I seemed somewhat stunned, one couple helped me up and hailed a cab for me. Instead of feeling pity for myself, I was very appreciative of their support. With the oncoming traffic feet away, the fall could have been much worse. Although my ego was a bit bruised and I can’t fully use my left hand right now, I realized that it was important to put things in perspective. At least I didn’t lose a limb or my life like many of our young soldiers at war. With that view, I am thankful.
Gratitude can be a way of life. The Science of Mind indicates that the more you are grateful for, the more will be given to you through the Law of Attraction. Mystics have known this principle for ages; now science is catching up. Researchers have found that gratitude is a “chosen attitude” and that practicing gratitude can actually improve your emotional and physical well-being. It can increase your body’s natural antibodies and make you more focused mentally. Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. They are also more likely to reach their goals and are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated. Grateful people are more likely to acknowledge a belief in the interconnectedness of all life and a commitment and responsibility to others.
It may be helpful to explore what gratitude is not. Gratitude is not feeling indebted to another person. It is not the obligatory “thank you” note or a sense of entitlement. It doesn’t mean you must be in a great mood when a crisis hits, and it is not the same thing as being satisfied with the status quo. Instead, gratitude is a sincere feeling of thankfulness and joy for what good there is even if you want to push for something better.
What do you do, however, when things seem to go terribly wrong? How can you be grateful then? I remember the news report about the French investment manager found dead in his Manhattan office, his wrists slit and a bottle of sleeping pills by his side. He had lost over $1 billion of client money in what was discovered to be a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme. Friends said that his hedge fund was his life and he was “devastated,” fearing his clients would sue him. The article ended with the sentence: “He was happily married to his wife.” That part actually struck me the most. Was there anything he could have held on to instead of ending his own life? Was loss in material value, no matter how extreme, worth dying for? In this instance, one has to search very deep down to identify what is going right or where the light might be.
Conjuring up feelings of gratitude during hard times may be tough and counting your blessings doesn’t mean that your pain or disappointment goes away. It simply helps to move you forward and experience peace. It may even bring clarity for a new path and solution. Therefore, be thankful even for difficult times. From cash flow shortages and relationship problems to an illness or a death in the family, every challenge is an opportunity to grow, and to build character. No matter how bad the situation seems, ask yourself:
There really is a silver lining in every cloud. It just may take some time to see it. You become refined by trials, and your troubles can actually become your blessings. The key is to remain in gratitude no matter what happens. For example, when my dad was sick with Alzheimer’s I learned the importance of leaving my agenda behind and simply being in the moment with him. No matter how many times he wanted to talk about Duke Ellington, I was right there with him! Now that he is gone, I am extremely grateful for that lesson in patience and being Present.
Show appreciation for the river of abundance that flows through your life each and every day. Remember that your personal net worth is not determined by the size of your checking account balance. When you do a mental and spiritual inventory of all that you have, you will realize that you are very rich indeed. Thankfulness is the most powerful statement to the Universe; an affirmation that even before you ask, you have received. An attitude of gratitude opens you up to attract more good. Every morning, you’ve been given the gift of another day. Use at least one of the 86,400 seconds to say, “thank you.”
Today, I say “thank you.”
I acknowledge the good that already exists in my life. I understand that if I focus on what I lack, I will never have enough. I realize that I have everything that I need in life to make me happy. I simply need the conscious awareness to appreciate it. I view life as a gift and I enjoy the simple pleasures — fresh fruit, a smile from a friend, a walk in the park, the sunlight on my shoulders. With a spirit of gratitude, I am enriched manifold, and share this goodness with others.
Today, I say “thank you.”
Listen to the Affirmation:
Copyright Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy. Power Living® Column Vol. 17.03, originally published April 17, 2003; revised January 2009. Teresa Kennedy has written over 70 “The Power of…” columns that are a part of the Power Living® Empowerment Series and available for syndication. Call 212-901-6913 for more information.
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