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Playful Self-Discipline: Gratitude

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.

shiny brown horse chestnuts

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?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rachael October 7, 2011, 5:59 am

    So far, I’m grateful that it’s Friday. Grateful that I had a good night of dreamless sleep. Grateful that my husband volunteered to take the Critter to school today.

    And, you know, the last thing that I thought of is just terrible! When I became a serious Zen practitioner, I wondered if I would have to give up the Red Sox. Aren’t I supposed to be detached and all? But then I realized, oh. No. I have to give up the Yankees. That is, give up hating them. Now THAT is difficult. I was going to say that I’m grateful that they lost last night and won’t be going any further in the playoffs. Instead I will say that I’m grateful that the Tigers won. Which isn’t quite true, because I don’t really care about the Tigers. But fake it ’til you make it, right?

    • michelle October 7, 2011, 11:08 pm

      Whatever works! I’m totally grateful for every night of good sleep I get, dreams or no dreams.

  • Eren Mckay October 7, 2011, 8:53 am

    Hi Michelle,
    I am very very grateful for having God in my life. If I didn’t have that security I wouldn’t feel peace and joy in whatever circumstance I’m in.
    I’ve gone through many many things.. but I choose to focus on everything that I’ve learned through all of the troubles.
    I’m also grateful to be able to see flowers and the sky. I’m grateful I have a wonderful family.
    I’m grateful for my computer – LOL!

    • michelle October 7, 2011, 11:11 pm

      Yes, even looking back on situations where I say to myself now, “man, you really mucked that one up,” I can see how much I learned from dealing with the fallout, and I can feel grateful for that.