This morning, we woke up to a note on the door that said our water would be off for the day, “sorry for the inconvenience”. The immediate reaction from my ego (the less evolved, grumpy, pessimistic part of myself) was “REALLY!? NO WATER AND THEY AREN’T EVEN GOING TO GIVE US ANY NOTICE? HOW INCONVENIENT. HOW ANNOYING.” But, because of my meditation and mindfulness practices, and because I know I am not my ego (I tend to not even engage with it), I was able to take a step back, and once I was able to see in a bit of a broader perspective, the gratitude came rolling in. WHEW. What a blessing to even CONSIDER complaining about the CLEAN, RUNNING WATER that I have INSTANT access to 24/7 not being “on” for, at most, a whole 8 hours.
I was truly, deeply humbled with gratitude for how absolutely honored and blessed I am to have access to such a luxury as running water. I recognize that within this world, many people don’t experience this luxury (yet), and if we are being honest, they probably don’t even “miss” it much. (It is hard to “miss”, or want, what you have never really had, or what you quite possibly don’t even know about.) People around the world have to walk miles to get clean water for themselves. In Flint, Michigan, USA, many people have gone with out clean, usable running water for a very long time (and this is in a country that we consider to be highly developed!). And here I was, with out clean, running water for a few hours.
I love moments and experiences like these, where I am able to recognize my great fortune and blessings in life.
So often, we complain about LUXURIES, like our variety of foods not being “good” enough, or our homes not being “big” or “fancy” enough, or our water being shut off for a brief amount of time. But what would happen if we shifted our complaints into gratitude? What would our life look like and feel like if we chose to be (very) grateful for all of the things that we have and are able to experience in this human life?
The reality is, the stuff we have and the material (worldly) luxuries we experience have nothing to do with our happiness. Whether we take our lives for granted or truly value them, it all comes back to our choice of how we want to FEEL (within THIS MOMENT, not the past or future). Many people live in what others would call “poverty” and are absolutely happy, peaceful and content with their lives. So what gives? What is the key to feeling at peace if it has nothing to do with the state of our material reality? GRATITUDE.
GRATITUDE is something I have learned to incorporate into my every day life, and something that I teach ALL of my clients (and friends, family, strangers–if they want to learn). Gratitude facilitates an EASY, basically effortless shift from feelings that are dark and heavy into more preferred states of feeling/being. I didn’t learn this in some book somewhere, (well, originally, yes I learned from someone, somewhere– maybe a book– the power of gratitude) my true teacher was my very own life experience. And you, too, can learn how to instantly shift yourself from being upset to feeling absolutely full, peaceful and blessed.
For most of my life (so far, up until the past 5 or 6 years), I was a very anxious, very depressed, very emotionally unstable being. I could EASILY “lose it” within a matter of SECONDS.
I was labeled as bipolar, depressed, and anxious to the point of extreme panic attacks that kept me immobilized.
I tried medications, therapies and self-medication for years before I was introduced to many of life’s “game-changers” (a term I really love to use for those transformative habits, practices and ways of being that are able to shift and evolve us). One of those “game changers” was a gratitude practice.
I was FED UP. I was so over feeling like S*%T all of the time!! I was tired, literally, and sick, literally, ALL OF THE TIME. I was creating and maintaining stress and fear and perpetuating patterns that kept me feeling STUCK and absolutely AWFUL, no matter what I did. I was ready to either 1. Take my life in hopes of relieving myself of my suffering or 2. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Luckily, and very, VERY GRATEFULLY, I chose to do something. The first thing I could really muster up the energy to do, was a practice of gratitude. It seemed simple enough, just start paying attention to your basic blessings (breath, body, food, water, etc…).
I started writing all of the things I was grateful for, especially when I was feeling upset and negative. I would immediately start writing, “I am grateful for my breath”, “I am grateful for my healthy body”, “I am grateful for my loved ones”, “I am grateful for this job (which I really don’t “like”, but that provides me resources and opportunities for growth)”, “I am grateful for electricity”, “I am grateful for running water”, “I am grateful for laughter”, and on and on and on… Once you start a list the challenge becomes how to stop– there are infinite reasons to be grateful that simply start flowing in as soon as you decide to pay attention to them.
I didn’t even really “believe” in the power of being grateful at first, I was simply desperate for relief from the hell I was experiencing in my internal environment.
I found myself on the edge of a deep awakening that would lead me to a path of discovering the truth of my existence, and finding (within myself, exactly as I am) true happiness. I noticed that each time I decided to focus on the wonderful things to be grateful for, it expanded my ability to see my life as “purposeful” and peaceful– I expanded my ability to be in joy all of the time. Eventually, I found myself grateful for even that which, initially, seemed really “bad” or inconvenient. I found that if I chose to see through eyes of gratitude and “on-purpose-ness”, I was able to see the clear lesson and opportunity for growth in all situations. When I found myself particularly upset or distraught with an “outer”, material circumstance (like money or a misunderstanding with someone) I began to SEEK the gratitude within it– to SEEK the lesson that would expand and evolve me– to SEEK the opportunity for feeling good.
I began to see that all of the experiences that I labeled as “bad”, were merely inconvenient (to my ego), but had much to offer to my expansion and ability to choose where my happiness lies.
Each time I am upset, I know that I am learning a new level of surrender, a new level of forgiveness, a new level of letting go of the “outside world” as the source of my happiness. Instead, I have learned to rely upon my internal perception, my ability to shift my reality, my ability to choose to take responsibility of my own power over how I CHOOSE to see/experience the “hard”, and the “good” stuff. The result is that there is no difference. The “difficult” times have become as beautiful as the “triumphant” times, because they are one and the same– they are reflections of my inner CHOICES of perception, and each experience offers the opportunity to BE GRATEFUL AND FEEL BLESSED.
So, even if the water shuts off in your life, you can CHOOSE how you will perceive it, which will then determine how you will EXPERIENCE it. A little gratitude goes a long way, and it doesn’t stop (unless YOU CHOOSE TO PUT A STOP TO IT). Once you decide you would rather feel blessed, peaceful, joyful and grateful, you will always be searching for and finding experiences that ignite that fire within you. So go ahead and throw a quick tantrum about your “first world problems” (like having access to the internet to read this article), but make sure that after you choose to be done complaining, you bring yourself into gratitude for the infinite and abundant blessings which you experience every.single.day. Bring this practice into your parenting, your work, and how you deal with people and the world on a daily basis, and I GUARANTEE YOU that your experiences will shift drastically (in your favor).
Do you need help finding ways to be grateful in your life or as a parent? How are you able to find peace within your life? Contact me here to learn more about healing programs to help you reach your best, most peaceful self. Comment below about how you choose to be grateful, how gratitude has changed your life, or other helpful practices that bring you into peace. As always, feel free to ask any questions and express any feelings. Thank you for reading. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe. I love you! Now, go out there and be GRATE(FUL)!!!!!!!!