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It all comes down to Gratitude.

in Gratitude, Spiritual Practice, Spirituality

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?

Blessed be.

Thoughtful, sparkling comments. . .

  • Lunaea Thu - Jul 03rd 2008 10:12 am

    I’m going to take your suggestion as a meme, Joanna, and do my list over at my blogue. May this day bring you many more things to be grateful for!

  • Rue Thu - Jul 03rd 2008 10:25 am

    Sweet Sister–thank you! Your blog made me cry for joy in remembering all I have to grateful for. Just yesterday I had a visit from my little grandson Joe at my office. It was magical having that precious little one sitting on my desk and throwing things on the floor!! THANK YOU—Love, Rue

  • JulieZS Thu - Jul 03rd 2008 11:43 am

    Good reminders all Joanna, thanks! I’m sorry sister that you’re grieving for Heron House. You certainly have good reason to, but good reason to be grateful for the new Rainbow Cottage too.

  • Karen Thu - Jul 03rd 2008 1:28 pm

    Thank you for that, Joanna. I stopped immediately, in the midst of converging deadlines at work, and wrote my gratitude list. It centered me, what a lovely practice!

  • Beth Owl's Daughter Thu - Jul 03rd 2008 2:52 pm

    Oh, this is lovely, Joanna! What a beautiful photo, too!
    You are so right about gratitude. I got on a bit of a roll about it last October when I was posting a whole series on my blog about money (ha! before the cost of living went crazy, even!).. I have found that it really has been the antidote for even my darkest days and nights.
    I still sometimes read my Gratitude Journal that I began keeping when I was caring for my mom before she died. It was a stretch sometimes, but SUCH a gift, to find the treasures for which to give thanks in those days.
    May thankfulness be in our every breath.
    – Beth

  • Brenda Thu - Jul 03rd 2008 5:13 pm

    I am grateful for your comments on gratitude. I too live daily with an attitude of gratitude.
    Blessings,
    Brenda
    Beeblesseddaily.com
    Brenda@beeblesseddaily.com

  • Elizabeth Genco Thu - Jul 03rd 2008 7:20 pm

    Thank you for this post, Joanna – it’s so apropos for me today!

  • judy in toronto Thu - Jul 03rd 2008 7:45 pm

    I’m grateful that we modern women-of-a-certain-age somehow manage to feel beautiful, vibrant and full of child-like joy over our grandchildren! Juicy crones!

  • Maggie Fri - Jul 04th 2008 1:12 am

    I love that you answered your question about dealing with emotional meltdown with the so-simple, yet so-difficult, concept of gratitude. As a wonderful character in the Angela Thirkell novels said, “Sometimes, when there is no happiness, we have to learn to be happy without it.” Seems feeling & expressing gratitude is like that. . . . sometimes we are in such a dark place we have to force ourselves to allow thank-you. . . . . but what a lovely light it lets in. Thank you for helping me to remember this.

  • joanna Fri - Jul 04th 2008 9:25 am

    Lunaea, I love your gratitude list over on your blogue!
    http://ssbpriestess.typepad.com/lunaea/2008/07/thank-you-sun-t.html
    Rue, we are so blessed, are we not, to have such perfect, amazing, and adorable grandchildren?
    Thanks Julie, and you are so right — we do have good reason to be thankful for Rainbow Cottage.
    Karen — I love it that you did this in the middle of your work day!
    Beth, I will have to go back and reread your Oct blog posts on gratitude. I don’t think I was reading your blog then so I missed them. I love your line “May thankfulness be in our every breath.” May it be so.
    http://owlsdaughter.blogspot.com/2007/10/power-of-gratitude.html
    Judy in Toronto — most definitely!
    And thank you, Brenda and Elizabeth and Maggie.
    Blessed be.

  • sasha graham Sat - Aug 16th 2008 5:29 pm

    Oh! I love the idea of a gratitude notepad! Just like when you are tracking the food you eat or watching your finances – you track the things you are grateful for. So brilliant!Thank you.Thank you.I’m grateful for this idea!

  • joanna Tue - Aug 19th 2008 7:33 am

    Thanks Sasha — but I believe Elizabeth Genco ran with this idea and thought up the notepad idea — keeping a notepad by your side all day to write down the things you’re grateful for. Love it, love it, love it!

  • G Angela Fri - Jul 27th 2012 12:24 am

    Thanks for sharing, i appreciate you for sharing your list, I have not kept a note pad, but i do write, and when i am inspired, i blog with gratitude, every post i write, i think with gratitude ! thanks again !