It is the season for being grateful. Even the media jumps on board this quarter of the year and sponsors food drives, homeless shelters and coat and blanket drives in an effort to promote gratitude. We are reminded everywhere we turn to “Be Grateful for what You Have.”
Meister Eckhart is quoted as saying, “If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice. And, it’s true, it is the ultimate prayer. It invokes gratitude and sends a message to the Universe to keep sending you the great blessings that you are enjoying and opens up space to receive more. This simple statement really sums up the energy behind “The Secret” and conscious creation. Focus on what you have, not the lack.
But sometimes, that’s more challenging that we want it to be. Sometimes, we as humans experience extended pain, suffering, confusion or just a general feeling of lack. Many times this is fleeting, but it’s not rare to find people who are really struggling to be grateful; even though mentally they know they have things to be grateful for. The focus remains on that thing that is plaguing them: ill health, joblessness, lack of social community, childlessness, wanting a partner, etc.
It’s particularly challenging for someone who is suffering when another says, “Cheer up, you have your….health, job, friends, home, marriage…..” For the person who is lacking one or more of these basic foundational safety nets, gratitude may sometimes be challenging. So, how can you get back to that place of pure meaningful gratitude? How can you join the spirit of the season in earnest if you’re truly lacking in a fundamental way?
Start somewhere. I’m not a big advocate of looking for someone who is “worse off than you,” as this creates a sense of looking for what isn’t working in the world – and you will find it and it will validate that suffering is everywhere. Instead, I encourage you to stop moving just for a moment and think about what you are glad you have, even if it’s not perfect or your ultimate dream.
Here are some places I start when I’m struggling to be filled with the sense of pure gratitude:
I love my kids…..Thank you!
I got out of bed this morning….Thank you!
I have a cup of hot coffee….THANK YOU!
I’m employed….Thank you!
There are people who love me….Thank you!
My list goes on, but you see I’m not adding things I’m not truly grateful for, and sometimes what I can focus on is as basic as hot flavored water — but I am meaningfully grateful to have it. If I’m in a period of really struggling with positive emotion it when I say, “thank you” then I return to my gratitude journal and write at least 20 things a day I’m really grateful for. Yes, it takes effort…but through that effort I begin to see the world and my life differently.
It’s appropriate to be thankful for where you are, today. Only when we can have heartfelt gratitude and thanks for what’s in our lives right now can we achieve the creations that we see so clearly in our minds. Suffering stops when we pause and meaningfully say, “Thank you.”