An Attitude of Gratitude

 

When I was young I learned to pray in church. There was a specific protocol for prayer: gratitude always came first. Then I was free to do the asking. As a child in a home fraught with strife, praying for God to release me into a life I could claim as my own was something I could hardly wait to do. Repetition couldn’t hurt, as God must have been pretty busy and I wasn’t ever quite sure I was being heard – things at home only reinforced the sentiment, while strife in general escalated rather than calming down. I never did lose faith, however; never ceased communication with the forces of Creation. I held the epithet ask and ye shall receive closer still to my heart. And gobbled up that asking like jellybeans.

If I reflect on the thankfulness part (and I always strove to get the order right, being just that kind of person), I have to admit it slowly magnified in importance. As my independent life blossomed, along came parenthood and a few painful and profound life experiences. All served to deepen my understanding of gratitude. After all, there was much to be grateful for. When I better understood the cyclical nature of things; grasped the nature of ebb and flow – my thankfulness multiplied each time abundance chanced to spill into my lap. I realized it for the gift it was. Perspectives began shifting: that metaphoric Christmas longing to open as many gifts as possible transformed into a genuine love of giving, increasingly preferential to receiving.

 

 

I certainly know people who find it hard to express heartfelt gratitude – they are either too beaten down by circumstances or they do it by rote, like memorizing a mantra. Gratefulness can’t be forced – only life and life itself can grant us experiences which pry our hearts open, whether from sheer joy or from wracking loss. If understood for what they are, both stimulate humility – and if one is truly open to the gifts hidden even and perhaps especially in the swamp, it’s easy to realize that all are beneficial. From this understanding emerges profound gratitude. And the funny thing is that attitude of gratitude unlocks all sorts of doorways, until life itself is accepted for the miracle that it is. Nothing’s changed really – just a frame of reference.

 

[And if you crank up the volume on this link and move your body to the feel of the music, I don’t know how anybody could possibly feel anything but gratitude for life, itself. Peace.]

 

10 comments on “An Attitude of Gratitude”

  1. There’s been a lot written lately on the “new” psychology of gratitude. There’s a great article in the New York Times by John Tierney Nov., 21, 2011 entitled, “A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day.” Cultivating an attitude of gratitude has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior towards others. I like the idea of keeping a gratitude journal and have thought about using this idea as a educational group topic when the patients I work with are leaning too heavily toward a negative bias. I think it’s a good habit to cultivate. Yes the glass is half full!

    • Ahh Mary Lee – your thoughtful response is, as always, appreciated. It’s nice to know that there is a ‘movement’ toward gratitude afoot in this country. I am well aware that the times, they are a-changin’ … and that’s a good thing!
      Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

  2. Because we take it so for granted until there’s a problem, gratitude for good health is something we should all celebrate.

    • Yes, Ronnie – you are absolutely right! I almost think it’s human to take something for granted – a sunrise, a child’s smile, our health – once we become accustomed to having it ‘all the time.’ Whereas if we are threatened with loss, suddenly that subject soars in importance. Keeping gratitude in one’s sights can be a meditation – a work in progress – but ultimately it contributes to a deeper appreciation of this incredible existence. At least that’s how I see it!
      Thanks for your comments.

  3. Bela,

    A lovely post as always. You are so right; intrisically it is all about changing the frame of reference. With this, there is the realisation that aspects we so easily tend to take for granted are in reality such wonderful blessings we have been blessed to receive.

    As we shift into this perspective, as we feel gratitude to open our hearts to “give” of what we have, a miraculous thing happens. The universe opens up to give back to us what we could never have imagined.

    An attitude of Gratitude lies in noticing all those small and simple things in life that give us peace and happiness. As we walk besides the flowing waters. As we hear the birds chirping. As we imbibe the wafting scents of nature. As we look into the bright eyes of the newborn. As we sit on the bench, being enveloped by the first rays of a rising sun. As we sing softly with no reason whatsoever…..

    To me, an attitude of gratitude is a choice, a way of life

    I was intrigued to listen to the Kashi Vishwanath Ganga song at the end. Not sure if you understand the lyrics but the images do personify what myriad colours life has, the essence of gratitude.

    Cheers and God Bless.

    Shakti

    • Shakti, what a lovely response to my post. Thank you so much for the beauty and grace in your response. I completely agree with all that you’ve said.

      And it’s so interesting that you feel gratitude is expressed in the images presented in the video – and no, I’ve never ‘understood’ the lyrics – but apparently my body and spirit know them, because the feelings they always elicit in me are pure joy and gratitude! This is one of my favorite tunes – and my musical tastes are as wide as the ocean.

      And even though I ‘know’ the (translated) lyrics to this chant, I of course don’t comprehend the backstory as I haven’t taken the time to research it. However, that being said – I think what most compels me to such music is the sheer devotional quality of it. India certainly is a big country, but it has such a plethora of devotional music – which is far more mainstream than, say, Christian hymns could ever be. Now and then my husband and I will go to a kirtan, and just being in the vibration of such offerings is a blessing in itself.

  4. […] An Attitude of Gratitude (belasbrightideas.wordpress.com) […]

  5. I adore these words and i love this song! This post reminds me of what I’ve been learning lately: The lessons of “surrender” and “allowing”… I think the same was true of my own attitude of gratitude. I never forced it… it just sort of sprang forth in the most miraculous way.. which I am eternally grateful for. I allowed life to flow and from that allowing, I found many brilliant gifts to have much gratitude for. Thank you for this beautiful reminder. 🙂

    • Happy to oblige 😉 Thanks for your kind words and your input on gratitude. I’m sure we can never hear enough about it – because, as you noticed, we do need reminders! Amazing, but we all do. Peace.


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