Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! I am grateful for the chance to serve with MAPS and for all of you here.
Amid the pinned recipes for pumpkin pie, cranberry relish and perfectly cooked turkey, are we taking the time to consider the true power of gratitude, and all that we have to feel thankful for? Or do we lose sight of gratitude in a storm of insatiable wanting, as we jostle for the best deals on a new TV to boost ourselves or impress someone else? Whether it is about food, possessions, love or approval, wanting disconnects us from the moment, creating agitation and suffering. But the true power of gratitude shows us the way to reconnect.
LESSONS IN GRATITUDE
My year living in India was an invaluable lesson in generosity and in recognizing how fortunate my life truly is. I was brought up in a Christian home and taught to see the needs of others, collecting for Unicef and doing volunteer work at food banks as a child. These were important teachings that created a seedbed for my personality and spiritual being to blossom. But the reality of the blessings of my life did not hit home until I was living in the midst of tremendous poverty.
I spent time in a small village in Rajasthan, in the northern part of India. It was amazing to see how people with so little would still naturally give. Everyone I visited would offer to share what food they had. If there was enough food in a meal for six hungry mouths, then they would divide what they had into seven portions, so that I could join them.
Perhaps our relative wealth breeds complacency. Tempted by manufactured abundance, we want more and forget to feel contented with what we have. If we were not able to have more, due to our circumstance, would we still want? Or would we find a way to feel happy with what we have? Have we fallen prey to cultural greed?
Abundance comes from the feeling of enough, not from feeling not enough. If we want to feel fulfilled, we need to begin to practice gratitude for what we have. If we are going around saying, “I am not enough. I don’t have enough. There is not enough…” consciously or unconsciously, we are in effect creating that reality, the reality of not enough, regardless of how much wealth is truly present in our life. Is it any surprise then that we feel unfulfilled?
You may move through your days somewhat cockeyed, feeling disconnected, wanting life to be different, wondering why it is not. There is tremendous unhappiness in the world and you contribute to it when you are in a disconnected state. If a zombie fog runs through your mind and seeps into your day, it’s as though you are just not quite there. In essence, you are not. Instead, you would be in wanting, thinking about what could be or what was, rather than being present for what is.
By rooting into the now and tapping into the vitality of this moment you can expand to meet what actually is. When you see all as grace – even the things you don’t like – you expand beyond the limited confines of your ego and tap into the vastness of pure consciousness. Then you see that you are not the doer, but a vehicle for the divine to move through you.
When you meet this moment as it is, with all its colours, dark and light, you realize the true possibilities in your life. There you find happiness, abundance and gratitude. Feeling grateful for what is, you tap into a wealth of power and vitality that had been waiting for you all along. You simply were too busy looking for fulfilment elsewhere.
So this week, do yourself and the world a favour. Write a list of all the things you feel grateful for, however small or large. It could be, “I like the colour of my eyes”, or it could be, “I feel grateful that I paid off my credit card” or “I feel grateful that I have food to eat and a roof over my head”. If you are really feeling stuck to find gratitude, you can always feel thankful for the extraordinary grace of breathing. It truly is incredible! Challenge yourself to go deeper than you usually would. Once you have your list, take a moment to breathe in the wealth you already have. This is your life. Let it be one rooted in gratitude and grace.