October is here, with cool, windy, wet days that send me hightailing it to the couch with a hot cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Autumn is a natural time to bring attention inward, slow down a little and take stock of where you’re at. October is also the month we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving, which is this weekend. So my thoughts are turning towards gratitude, and how I can be playfully self-disciplined in my approach with it.
Gratitude has recieved a lot of positive press lately, with gratitude journals and lists popping up on Oprah and in the mainstream media. In the book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Dr. Stephen Post describes how the practice of regularly cultivating gratitude corresponds with longer, healthier lives. For me, gratitude goes beyond having a glass half full or glass half empty perspective, it is about the wonder and blessing of there being a glass at all.
It is a miracle, really. Why should there be a beautiful world, with shiny brown horse chestnuts and toddlers with ringlets, instead of a void of nothingness? Why are any of us here? How do I know we’re not standing on the brink of mass extinction or a slow poisoning by our own environmental toxins? In a world that is unpredictable and inexplicable in so many ways, the fact that I am here in this moment, comfortable, safe and warm is so astounding that griping about the little things seems rather pointless. Besides, if I died suddenly tomorrow I’d rather have spent today feeling gratitude instead of griping about the dirty dishes.
It is easy to say to ourselves, “If only I was over there, I’d be happier.” But the only place I can be is here, now. Gratitude helps me see the beauty all around me. Gratitude is a way of giving thanks for the blessings in my life, for the hurts that have healed and the gifts I have been given. And gratitude is the most certain way I know to turn a bad mood around.
Today I feel gratitude for the big picture; for the metaphysical delight and wonder that is human existence, the beauty of love and the amazing way the universe can send just the right thing at the right time in our lives, even if that thing isn’t what we thought we wanted.
What do you feel gratitude for today?