A New Look at Gratitude

gratitudeMary O’Malley – Isn’t it wonderful that even with most of our holidays celebrating someone or some event, we have a holiday that celebrates gratitude!!

Think of the last time you felt a spontaneous wave of gratitude. Feel how it uplifts you and opens your heart. The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace or gratefulness. It means appreciation for whatever life gives you. Research has shown that gratitude not only helps us – our bodies, our minds and our hearts – but it also affects the people we meet throughout the day in a positive way.

Our minds are so used to living in a state of want…wanting our bodies, our relationships, our children, our finances, and on and on to be different than what they are.  Gratitude steps you out of that world of want and back into your heart, which knows a nourishing connection with life as it is.  Of the 3 core ways to access your heart – loving kindness, forgiveness and gratitude, gratitude seems to be the easiest for people to access.

People usually feel gratitude for things, people and experiences, but there is an even more intimate level of gratitude – gratitude for life itself.

This can show up as gratitude that life is giving you the gift of another day and the gift of another breath, for one day they will no longer be here.  It can show up as being grateful for your eyes that allow you to read these words, remembering that there are millions of people who can’t see at all.

When you also recognize that there are millions of people who have either lost their hands or the use of their hands, you can feel gratitude for your hands that do so much for you every day. Can you imagine life without them? For this moment, rather than looking at what is wrong with your body – pain, wrinkles, dis-ease – discover what you can be grateful for.

Nature can also open your grateful heart. If there was no sun, there would be no life. For a moment, can you thank the sun for all it gives every day?  And what about the water that nourishes all life on this planet?  With our limited exploration of the universe, we have discovered that liquid water is a very rare occurrence and yet here we are surrounded by it, in our clouds, rivers, lakes and oceans. When was the last time you thanked water for giving you life?!  (You are 60% Water!!)

Food can also open you into gratitude. Can you be grateful for the people who have handed down seeds over the millenniums who keep the continuum of food alive? What about the people who took care of the fields that grew the food you are eating and the people who created fertilizers and irrigation systems that allowed the food to grow?

And what about the people who made the trucks that brought the food to your store and the people at the store who managed the food until you purchased it. You wouldn’t have a kitchen filled with food without all these people. And if that doesn’t yet open your grateful heart, when you next eat, feel all the children on this planet that are starving right now as you are reading this, and truly be grateful for this food.

Just like saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” it takes the entire earth for you to continue living.  Seeing this, you realize there is so much to be grateful for, even if life is very difficult. In fact, when it is, gratitude can open you up out of the tight and small place that big challenges bring you. If you are very ill, be grateful for all that your body has done for you over the years. If somebody has cruelly rejected you, feel gratitude that there are millions of people who are experiencing the same thing at the exact moment you are. You are not alone!

During this time of thanksgiving, be willing to stay connected to gratitude. Appreciate even the smallest and simplest of things, the sound of a bird, the beauty of a flower, the wrinkles on your loved one’s faces.

Allow gratitude to open your heart again so you can reconnect with the absolute miracle of being alive! And then notice how your open heart touches everybody you meet throughout your days.

SF Source Mary O’Malley Nov 2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.