Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summer Reruns: Gratitude

¡Hola! Everybody…
Busy day today… Summer reruns!

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-=[ Gratitude ]=-
“Don’t say such changes cannot happen. A vast freedom could live inside you. A loaf of bread wrapped in a cloth for the table is just an object, but inside the human body, it becomes gladness for being alive!”
-- Rumi

I guess that if you wanted to get somewhere, a good map is a place to start – can make the difference between arriving at your destination with ease, or becoming hopelessly lost. Imagine, for a moment, if a friend raves about a restaurant or club and when you ask your friend where the restaurant is, she says, “Just visualize the restaurant clearly. Post a sign on your refrigerator door that says, ‘I can easily and joyfully find any restaurant I want!’ That’s all I need to do.”

I’m sure most people would think such a statement silly. But what if my destination is “self-acceptance”? What if all I wanted was to reach a state of inner wholeness that I have never experienced before? Like the restaurant in the above example, I may have heard wonderful things about it but at one time, I had never been there and didn’t know how to get there. Perhaps many of us can relate having been told to, “Just do it. Just accept yourself.” That’s a lot like being told to “Just go to the restaurant,” without being given any directions.

Today, I am grateful for having direction in my life, for the luxury of experiencing self-acceptance.

Better yet, what if you ask how to get to a restaurant and you’re told that before you can even begin to find this restaurant you need to spend several months, or even years, thinking about how bad your own cooking is. You need to explore the reasons why you aren’t happy with your own cooking and why you have this need to go to the restaurant. In addition, you also have to understand how you became such a bad cook. I would say this is sillier even than the previous example.

A common belief is that if we understand a problem well enough, it will simply disappear. Yet at one time in my life I could’ve, at any given moment, articulated the intricate dynamics of my $300-a-day heroin habit and still not change.

Today I am grateful for the freedom from the tyranny of thinking and the over analyzing that was the prison of my life – literally and figuratively -- before I became free.

My life is not about affirmations or positive thinking. Shoot, I have tried many times to overcome my limitations by sheer will power – trying to act or feel different, telling myself over and over that I would be different. But I discovered that is approaching the issue from the outside in – it’s trying to rearrange the same furniture in order to create something new. It’s a lot like taking pain medication for a broken bone: you might feel better for a little while, but the core issue hasn’t been addressed.

Today I am grateful for the many people who have helped me do the inside job of creating a lasting transformation.

Most of all, I am grateful for having an underlying sense of wholeness and well-being whether or not things are going well in my life. Even when things seem to be falling apart, I feel resourceful. I have had this experience numerous times and, little by little, it has become my default way of being. I am grateful for developing and maintaining an inner sense of self, well-being, and wholeness and perhaps a connection with something beyond myself, that sustains me in difficulty as well as in good times. I am grateful for the awareness that this inner sense of fullness and integrity, and a strong resourceful self is available to each of us, and is our own birthright.

As I said yesterday, I ain’t all that well, and have times of sadness, frustration, and anger and irritability – that’s part of being human. But I am equally grateful that even in those down times I can still have an underlying sense of joy and well-being about myself. I have an inner knowing that I have the resources to weather the storms, and unbeatable sense of optimism that I will come out on the other side of my difficulties not only intact, but also wiser and stronger.

What more could I ask of my life?

All of us have personal limitations we have struggled to overcome. With some of them, it seems that no matter what we do, they won’t go away. Most of us turn away from those parts of ourselves we don’t like. We try to repress feelings we don’t want to have. We try to “think positively” and push away negative thoughts. These approaches will never work – never seem to create natural, lasting change.

I am here to tell you that if you want some measure of happiness, then you need to bring some gratitude into your life. A grateful mindset leaves no room for depression or negativity. In living in grace and gratitude, you may encounter hardships but they will not rule you.



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