They say Gratitude is a basic component for success. But It is also a key ingredient to a happier life in general.
There is a saying, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” This saying came to mind last week when our area was struck by a surprise mini tornado. The day started out as a beautiful summer day. We had had heavy rains two days before, but it looked like we were in for sunny skies and drier weather that morning. We went about our day as usual doing our internet work and taking every good thing in life pretty much for granted. That was until 4 PM in the afternoon when the skies suddenly turned black and dark. Then, as if out of nowhere, a strong whirlwind came down upon us. My wife and I took shelter in the center of our house (unfortunately we have no basement) and began riding the storm out. I heard tree limbs crashing all around our home. Then, the power went out. Heydi began talking to the storm asking it to go around us (fortunately she is a very good storm talker). Then, as suddenly as it all began, the winds settled down. Although it was still raining, we went outside to survey the damage. One tree limb had come down near the back of our home and the back yard was filled with other heavy debris. Looking towards our neighbor’s properties we could see a clear path of destruction that had torn apart the tops of trees, but left homes untouched. Although we had no power, no landline phone, and no internet, we still had our home and each other. Suddenly, it felt good to be alive.
Although I was disappointed at not being able to work online until the power was restored, I spent the rest of the day walking around in the rain surveying the damage to our neighborhood and feeling a deep sense of gratitude. Nature had shot a bullet right over our heads, and we had managed to dodge it. Having been raised in the mid-west I had seen my share of tornado’s over the years. I have seen communities destroyed and the lives of friends lost. Yet, somehow, the storms have always managed to pass us by. I found in that recalled history ample cause for reflection and gratitude. That night as we waited for the power company to restore our service, we lite candles and gave thanks. Someone up “there” liked us. And I wanted to let Him/Her know that I appreciated it.
Human beings can be funny creatures. Many times we moan and complain about the things that we lack and the troubles we are made to endure. And by keeping our focus on negative things, we set ourselves up for pain and further disappointment. Many Spiritual teachers rightly claim that what we focus on the most tends to grow in our lives. If we focus primarily on the negative, we give power to the negative aspects of our lives. But, if we choose to be grateful and to focus on the positive aspects of our lives, we give power to the positive and begin to attract more goodness into the world around us. Spiritually, like attracts like. People with a negative attitude will tend to attract negative circumstances into their lives along with like minded friends. And by the same principle, people who learn to focus on the positive, and who are truly grateful for the good things they have, tend to attract more positive things into their lives. It’s all a matter of attitude.
So, how do we get an “Attitude of Gratitude?” I have found for me that taking some time out each day to deliberately focus on the good helps. Yes, we all have our share of trouble in this world. But we also have cause for gratitude. Unfortunately we fail to recognize the good things we do have until they are either gone or threatened by forces beyond our control. But we do have the power to stop and give thanks for the good things we have and the “small victories” we have won. Even if it seems like a small blessing, like a cool breeze on a hot summer day, we have the ability to either be grateful for it, or to take it for granted and just ignore the good. By stopping to consciously and deliberately show gratitude to the Higher Powers of our understanding, we can shift our emotional energy from one of disappointment to one of thanks. And there are different practices we can adopt to do this.
My way of developing an Attitude of Gratitude is through the daily practice of meditation. By taking some scheduled time each day to connect with the Universe, I gain strength and clarity. And with clarity of inner sight I find I can begin to better see and appreciate the good around me. Others prefer a more down to earth style. For them there is the daily practice of journaling; taking a few minutes each day to write down some of the good things you have and show gratitude for them. There are other ways too of developing a gratitude habit like caring for pets, nature, or loved ones. But it is a habit we must develop. And, like all habits, it takes time and discipline to grow them.
Take some time each day to work on developing an attitude of gratitude. Meditate, journal, or just take the time to do something pleasant and then give thanks for it. We overlook so much in life. Don’t wait until it is gone to recognize it.