Here in Canada it is thanksgiving, a day when the collective focuses on gratitude for all that we have been gifted with. Of course most of us believe it would be beautiful if everyone shared his or her gratitude every moment of every day. I am certain that the ripple on effect is much more enhanced on days like this and it brings a lot of smiles when reading the facebook pages of others.
"To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is
generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven."
~Johannes A. Gaertner
It was only through my adventures as a Gratidude that I realised how challenging it was for me to express feelings of gratitude and I was surprised how much negative attention it received. Believe it or not there were days when I was challenged to share it due to the insults from those who thought we were an annoyance to their day. I grew up in a town where I believed expression of such feelings ( especially for young men ) would have been considered "touchy feely" and incited some form of torment. It often did, until I learned to shut it down. Joseph Stalin even said; "Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs." It goes to show where a lack of gratitude can take us if we share his thoughts. I am not sure anyone can know how challenging it was for me the first time I did the Gratitude Dance in front of 600 teenagers, but they embraced it and my vulnerability had been rewarded. The positive experiences outweighed the negative ( and those negative experiences were only negative as long as I perceived them that way ) and I feel stronger in my life as a result of being fortunate enough to share it with so many. And now I want to share why I think it can make your life better too.
"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others."
- Marcus Tullius Cicero
When I begun sharing I thought I understood gratitude's power fully enough, but I was way off. Gratitude has the power to change your life in to something truly amazing. Sometimes it is not always easy to see the gratitude. In the beginning when Brad and I shared our message we were living off pennies to our name. We did what we could and for all of that we were grateful. There have been many challenges along the way, but amidst the bleakest of days there were blessings to be found. Even in times of the deaths of loved ones. The trick was in finding those blessings. Now years later I am seeing that the constant and never ending gratitude changed my life more than I could have ever imagined. It took persistent effort, honesty with myself, and a desire to be happy independent of life's situations. Have I mastered it? I am on human journey, there is always room for greater self realisation.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."
- Melody Beattie
Finding the gratitude for the people and experiences that have hurt me has brought some of the greatest healing. Of course I allow myself to go through the stages of sadness, anger and even desires for revenge (without acting on it). I refuse to carry an insincere facade of positivity, but my desire is to find the best within all situations and to get to the place of gratitude for everything and everyone no matter how difficult it seems, or how much my ego resists. I would hope others would want to find that peace with me and we need to give in order to receive. When I am able to find that space of gratitude for them, I am a step closer to finding peace. Sometimes I can find it within a day, some of my greatest challenges I am still seeking greater depths of gratitude for. We probably have to experience all human feelings, but know that gratitude is one that we really have to stand up for in our life. A daily effort and the help of compassionate and understanding mentors and friends yields the happiness we seek. And of course spend time meditating, for it is through meditation that we can transcend the duality of life and experience the bliss that is changeless.
On this Thanksgiving Day I want to send out a big thank you to all of you in the world who have taught me to be happy, whether through our friendship or our differences. It has made me stronger, it has enhanced my faith in our world and our people, and it has made me want to live each day in service to others, paying it forward. May all your years be blessed, and may you find the blessing in whatever situation you find yourself in today.
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