Gratitude

Recently, I’d been experiencing some confusion between fulfilling my soul’s purpose and recognisable ‘achievement’ and recognition in the world. When I’m peaceful and balanced, I know the difference: my soul’s purpose is essential, while worldly achievement and recognition is a nice add-on, if it comes.

What has clarified that confusion for me is remembering to practice gratitude: gratitude for what I am, what I have done and am able to do; gratitude for what I have, what I have experienced, all that has been given me in this life; gratitude for this moment, with the sun shining on the leaves and the wind moving the trees’ branches and the dog breathing quietly at my side; gratitude for the miracle of each life in the all-species tribe that surrounds me, for the miracle of life itself.

I love this inspiration on gratitude and healing from Joanna Macy, whose work on deep ecology and reconnection is well worth spending some time to get to know. She says:

We have received an inestimable gift. To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe—to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it—is a wonder beyond words. It is an extraordinary privilege to be accorded a human life, with self-reflexive consciousness that brings awareness of our own actions and the ability to make choices. It lets us choose to take part in the healing of our world. Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Yet we so easily take this gift for granted. That is why so many spiritual traditions begin with thanksgiving, to remind us that for all our woes and worries, our existence itself is an unearned benefaction, which we could never of ourselves create.”

Gratitude: that heart-filling, soul-warming feeling that opens our senses, opens us up to ourselves, to one another, to the world, to Source, to all that is. When it overcomes us out of the blue, it is such a blessing, like falling in love. But gratitude can also be a regular practice, something we take time and attention quite deliberately to ‘do’ in our daily round.

Making a practice of gratitude

One way to do this is to keep a gratitude diary. At the end of each day write down all the things you’re grateful for today. And the more we practise gratitude, the more we realise what we receive in each moment, the more we want to give back, to share with others. Service – volunteer work of any kind – can be a wonderful, concrete expression of gratitude; and keeping service grounded in gratitude saves us from the tendency to become martyrs.

The universe loves us. We are each inestimably precious. May we all remember. May we all be blessed. May we all share our blessings.

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