Wednesday Wisdom. Gratitude: Awakening the Heart
I just had this article published on Gratefulness.org, and I wanted to share it here as my Wednesday Wisdom this week. It’s a great reminder to live in gratitude, and to practice daily gratitude. Enjoy! And check out the gratefulness website; it’s amazing.
The inspiration for writing a 21-day Gratitude Challenge blog series came to me in a moment of desperation.
During November, I wrote a blog series entitled, 21-days of Gratitude: Awakening the Heart. I wrote it not only to inspire readers, but also to help myself during a time when I was spiraling downward. I’d been sleeping poorly for months, going to work in an angry and frustrated mood, and generally finding it hard to accept my day-to-day life. In a nutshell—I was struggling.
My birthday is in November, and I certainly didn’t want to come to my birthday feeling so out of balance. How was I going to accept what I felt so unhappy about? How was I going to restore peace within myself? How was I going to not drive my husband to the brink?
The inspiration for writing a 21-day Gratitude Challenge blog series came to me in a moment of desperation. It was October 31, and I just jumped in, like I do when I go swimming (otherwise I would just run back into the locker room, dress, and go home).
I didn’t know then what I was committing to. I just knew I needed something to help me out of not sleeping well, feeling frustrated, and not accepting my life with any grace.
I picked up Angeles Arrien’s book: Living in Gratitude, a book I had started reading in 2012, as well as Brother David Steindl-Rast’s book: Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, which I had been reading on and off for over a decade.
The more I met my states of ingratitude with acceptance and engaged in gratitude practices, the stronger the energy of gratefulness became in me.
I was immediately attracted to the idea that “we can choose to be grateful, or we can choose to be ungrateful—to take our gifts and blessings for granted,” as Angeles writes in her introduction. Gratitude is a practice.
For 21 days, I “practiced” gratitude more consciously. I kept a gratitude journal. I practiced the Breath of Thanks. I sought to see my life with grateful eyes—with grateful seeing and a heart of gratitude. I invited myself to be more in the present moment, and put on glasses of gratitude as I lived my day.
The result was almost instantaneous—the food I ate was tastier; I could see the blueness of the sky; I could hear the laughter of the children I read to in the library; I could sink in comfort into the warmth of my bed at night. And I came face to face with my states of ingratitude. I noticed how often I compared myself to others. I noticed when I was criticizing myself. I noticed the storm in my heart, my feeling of anger at not being able to stay home and have more time for my creative desires.
I chose not to dismiss my frustration or anger, but instead accepted my feelings and was grateful. I was grateful for being honest with myself. I was grateful for standing in my truth. I was grateful for my willingness to accept ALL of me. And the more I met my states of ingratitude with acceptance and engaged in gratitude practices, the stronger the energy of gratefulness became in me.
Gratitude offers us another way to respond to our lives, allowing us to meet our states of ingratitude with compassion and acceptance for ourselves.
Midway through my gratitude series, I came to a great realization. The title of Angeles Arrien’s book, Living in Gratitude, helped me see it. Our deepest transformation comes not from living with gratitude, but living IN gratitude. When we live in something, we allow ourselves to become the thing itself. We become gratitude!
And now, after 21 days, I have this growing and deepening habit to draw upon. Gratitude offers us another way to respond to our lives, allowing us to meet our states of ingratitude with compassion and acceptance for ourselves.
Gratitude teaches us the power of “thank you,” and the essence of Meister Eckhart’s words of wisdom: If the only prayer you say in your whole life is thank you, that would suffice.