I’m honing in here on the idea of gratitude. I’m beginning to think that all the spiritual practices in the world and all the strategies we devise to get us through rough times all come down to this one: gratitude.
Gratitude changes the way we view the world. We see the same events through a different lens, a rainbow-colored lens, as it were. Not “rose-tinted glasses” in the sense of being in denial or ignoring the ugliness in the world. But choosing, every moment, where to put our focus. Do I focus on the things that make me scared or anxious or bring me pain? Because if I do that, I’m going to miss out on all the beauty, joy, kindness and generosity that surround me.
Gratitude brings us into the present moment. We can’t be brooding over the past or fretting over the future if we’re noticing what’s around us right now, right here. What else do we have but the present moment?
Gratitude attracts more things to be grateful for. Not to get all Law of Attraction on you — but it is true: when you are looking for things to be grateful for, you will find them. And then you’ll find more. And more. And more.
Yesterday I drove out to the island to do a final tidying-up and staging of my beloved Heron House, before it goes on the market this coming weekend. After I finished, I walked through the empty rooms, remembering all the people who had laughed and cried and loved there, all the celebrations, all the quiet moments, the creation of songs and art and food and gardens. From baby Noah who lived there to my beloved elder father, and all the generations inbetween. I felt all those people and all those times, reverberating off the straw bale walls as if the tears and laughter and music had now become part of the very structure of the house. I walked out the front door, turned the key in the lock, and said goodbye to Heron House. It’s not my house anymore.
And I cried. And I cried. And I cried. Grieving, yes. For the loss, yes. But also in gratitude for the great gift of nearly a decade of living in this house, on this sweet spot of an island. Even now my heart nearly bursts from the joy of it.
And I remembered the thoughtful responses that some of you made to my post about emotional meltdowns. We are all hurting, are we not? In one way or another. We have a serious illness, or we are in danger of losing our job, or we have a child who is making bad choices and we can’t stop her, or we are in desperate fear for the state of the planet. How do we cope?
Gratitude. Because gratitude engenders joy, a joy that is deep and lasting and sustainable. A joy that “is a happiness that does not depend on what happens.” (David Steindl-Rast, www.gratefulness.org)
So if you’re not already in the habit of keeping a gratitude journal (Goddess knows the idea has been around for long enough) — or a gratitude notepad if that’s easier — start now, today. And in a month or so, let me know how it changed your life.
Go ahead. Stop everything, even reading this. Right here, right now, ask yourself: What am I grateful for? Now write it down. Every single thing you can think of. You may get on a roll and not be able to stop.
Now do this every day, morning or evening.
Even if it’s only one thing.
Even if it’s only a HMOTD.
Here’s my list this morning (in no particular order, just as they occurred to me).
I’m grateful for . . .
- The idea of tweeting HMOTDs (Happiest Moment of the Day). No matter what a challenge the day has been, now I don’t go to bed until I’ve tweeted a HMOTD. More often, it’s hard to choose, and I have to tweet two of them. (You know, there is really is something in knowing that other people will read my HMOTD’s. And I love reading yours, fellow Tweeters.)
- Twitter because it keeps me in daily contact w/my mermaid sister who moved to Wales.
- My husband, partner, lover; who is vulnerable enough to tell me how much he misses the island too.
- My beloved circle of mermaid sisters and priestess sisters and Tarot sisters & brothers, and the circles just keep ever-expanding.
- My deep connection to the island, and the nurturing and inspiration it has given me over the years.
- My barter agreement with Elaine so that I get to eat her fabulous, healthy food.
- Our new neighbor who mowed our little strip of lawn yesterday.
- My agnostic husband hanging prayer flags in our new sanctuary garden. And how he started ripping out the ivy so that She Who Watches has room to breathe.
- The rainbows in the rafters of our new home that dance every afternoon when the sun strikes the prisms in the high windows. (In fact we have named our new home Rainbow Cottage.)
- Music that lifts my spirits and sets my toes tapping (most recently, the Wailin’ Jennys).
- The kindness of my father, who passed that kindness on to me. And how I feel his presence every day.
- My beautiful baby granddaughter, Grace.
- My MacBook. (I love it.)
- Thunderstorms in the middle of the night.
- Early morning birdsong.
- All the lovely people who leave comments in my blog entries, who tweet with me and who send me emails. We are all one tribe, are we not?