Day 20: Gratitude as Spiritual Practice

Day 20: Gratitude as Spiritual Practice

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On Day 20 of the Idea Machine Project, I focus on gratitude as a spiritual practice.

After this quick introduction, I write about gratitude in 11 areas of my life.

Seeing Gratitude

Although I’ve always had a generally grateful attitude about whatever I’ve experienced, until about four or five years ago, I’ve rarely taken the time to write down specific things I’m grateful for.

It’s not always easy…….

And while I say I’ve always been generally grateful about everything, that attitude hasn’t always come easily. I’ll be honest. In some situations it took took a LOT of work and commitment to spiritual growth to find and experience gratitude.

You have to let go…..

I could only see, find, and experience gratitude in situations that were clearly bad (violence, work situation, accidents) only if I let go of a desired outcome. I often fought the need to let go. I’ve always liked being in control. But here’s the thing:

Whenever I HAVE let go of my short-term wants and searched for ways to be grateful for an experience, the eventual outcome has always turned out much better than I expected or desired.

An Attitude of Gratitude Usually Takes Practice

Even though I have become more cognizant of the role of gratitude in my life over the past few years, I’m still not always making gratitude an affirmative daily practice. For the past year or two, I’ve probably noted in my journal something specific I’m grateful for maybe 2-3 days each week. Sometimes, more frequently, then skipping several days or even weeks.

But I have always felt a sense of gratitude for good things, large and small, that I experience during the day. I often say a quick prayer of thanks for all types of outcomes–such as a safe passage to my destination during a long drive or even something simple like the daffodils that are now blooming outside my front door.

Gratitude is a Blessing

Like anything that takes practice and effort, the rewards are immense.

I’m not suggesting that anyone should write a daily list of things to be thankful for as a quid quo pro exercise.

But I’ve found that by realigning my conscious attitude with a larger purpose and letting go of my short term wants and demands I am more relaxed, less “driven” to control situations and  more open to experiencing wonder, awe, and inspiration.

Gratitude Leads to Inspiration

This could be the subject of an entire book, not a few sentences in a blog post. But if you look at the etymology of the word inspiration, you’ll find that the origins refer to the spirit of the divine living inside a person.

Ideas come from and through inspiration.

So anyway, maybe I’ll take up this subject again later.

For now, as part of my Idea Machine Project to blog my way through Claudia Altucher’s Become an Idea Machine book, here are 11 “things” beyond the obvious that I’m thankful right now.

These are the 11 paragraphs I wrote in my journal earlier this morning, so apologies for any lack of editing. The order is the order in which they came to me as I journaled.

1. I’m grateful for the ability to read, good eyesight that enables me to see without difficulty and access to books and quality reading material.

2. Not only am I not hungry, I understand the role of food in health. So I’m grateful that I know how to make good food choices. I’m grateful that I like greens, colorful vegetables, fruits, fish and other healthy foods. I’m grateful that my parents  raised me to like healthy foods. And that I know how to cook.

3. Generally, we’re always thankful for physical health. But I’m grateful for the desire to be physically strong and in condition to tackle physically-challenging activities, whether it’s walking 7 miles home from work in a snowstorm or just working in the yard all day to grow flowers and food.

4. Related to #3, I’m grateful that I understand the importance of sleep in health and have always been willing (most of the time) to sacrifice short-term to do lists to get more sleep. I might get fewer things done each day, but in the longer game of life, sleep will reward me.

5. I’m grateful that I’ve come through some (potentially) emotionally-scarring situations as a much stronger person. Resilience comes from dealing with and working through adversity. My faith is at the heart of this. I can endure and rise above situations because I know that that God/Christ/HolySpirit empowers me. The outcome isn’t tolerance of unacceptable conditions, but patience and strength to work through them and know that I can overcome and that good will triumph.

6. I am grateful to notice the flowers, the maple buds this year, squirrels at play, ants and bees busy at their tasks.

7. I am grateful that I can walk 15 feet from where I sit at my desk writing in this journal, pull a lever and fill a glass with clean water. And since I live in the United States and have always been blessed with a means to generate a middle-class income I can afford a refrigerator that lets me filter out the purification chemicals from the water I drink.

8. I am grateful for all the pieces of my life: My DNA, my upbringing, my education, the purpose or purposes for which I was created, the choices I’ve made and everything else that makes me the person I am today. I’m grateful that all of these and other aspects of my life have made me open to change, desiring to grow, learn, improve; strong in my faith yet not dogmatic about it or forcing others to accept my beliefs or even to understand them.

9. I’m grateful for modern technology and the science that makes it possible.

10. I am grateful not just for my house and roof over my head, but for a neighborhood where I can walk and jog.

11. I am grateful that I feel as if my life is just getting started. So much potential still to be explored.

12. I am grateful for the animals that have been and are in my life to teach me about love and personalities: Puppy/Dewdrop, Sparky, Bumble, Bama, Nicholas, Dali, Dot, Friend, Penny, Shine, Buck and all the ones I didn’t name.

 

 

 

 

 

About Sheree

Change Catalyst, Idea Explorer, Dot-Connector, Square Peg