I began the 2014 New Year without a resolution but with a focus on a single word. The word I selected, or I believe selected me, was gratitude. I began researching gratitude and its power. I've watched Louie Schwartzberg’s YouTube video on gratitude at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj2ofrX7jAk many times. Each time I've come away with a new revelation on gratitude through his camera lens. (Schwartzberg also has TED Talk on gratitude at http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude.)
I’d begin my morning with a meditation on gratitude. Here are a couple of my gratitude meditations in green from this past year.
I am grateful for speed bumps, toll gates and radar signs that tell me how fast I am going. They require me to slow down, to look around, to be mindful. It’s a gift rather than a problem!
I made some huge discoveries about gratitude and its power this past year. I came to believe gratitude may be the “secret sauce” to being significant rather than successful, the key to exemplary leadership and living a good life. I was grateful to find a book by Ira Byock, M.D., The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living. Byock suggests there are four conversations we need to have with the key people in our lives including the conversation of gratitude for them and the impact they have had and continue to have upon our lives.
I am grateful for balloons, those thin membranes that trap air or helium. Balloons are like me - fragile, stretched, spontaneous, colorful, yet sagging over time. Some balloons are big and strong enough to lift people. Some balloons, like rafts, carry people down rivers. I am grateful for their gift as well as the distraction!
In rereading psychologist Dr. Timothy Miller’s How to Want What You Have: Discovering the Magic and Grandeur of Ordinary Existence,
I rediscovered the three behaviors he tries to get his patients to
lean into, including gratitude and the healing impact it can make on
their lives. Developing a habit of gratitude this past year
helped me learn more about myself, including how to connect my heart to emotions rather
than to symptoms.
I am grateful for headaches. The dull ache in the front of my head and behind my eyes. I take my health for granted. A headache causes me to examine how it came to be and to determine what I might do in the future to prevent it. It’s a gift to focus and be present. A headache reminds me of those who are suffering and in a far worse state. I need to keep them in my prayers.
Here is what I learned about gratitude. To be grateful requires becoming mindful and fully present. It is not enough to think, “I am grateful for a nice home.” Gratitude requires curiosity and thinking about how, who, what, where and when it created this blossom in your life. Allowing your mind to focus on gratitude takes you back to the source and helps you explore the symphony of possibilities to reach this moment. Gratitude requires slowing down and connecting your mind with your heart. Gratitude creates the AHA! moment when life intersects with opportunity. In that moment of truly being grateful, you become connected and vulnerable. Suddenly you recognize it's not about you, it’s about others. What about all those who have touched you to reach this moment? Humility kicks in. Groundedness takes place and vulnerability gets your attention. This thin place creates a feeling of really being alive.
I am grateful for rear view mirrors. “Objects may be closer than they appear”
…could be that unsettled business of asking for forgiveness.
…shame and guilt I’m carrying
…ignoring a poor lifestyle
The gift of a rear view mirror reminds me not to focus on the past, and to be present.
We all want to be happier. David Steindl-Rast's TED Talk offers insight into the gratitude-happiness connection. Watch his Want to be happy? Be grateful! at http://www.ted.com/talks/david_steindl_rast_want_to_be_happy_be_grateful.
Even though I picked a new word to explore and to live into for 2015, I’m going to keep on living into gratitude!
I am grateful for a new year of new possibilities!