Image courtesy of Joyti Ishaya.
FEATURE - November 2017
The Simplicities of Gratitude that Uplift Us
by Tracy Bray, BS/MA
Identifying things to be grateful for is an assignment frequently heard and read in our times. Books exclaim the rewards to be discovered when pinpointing these ditties, podcasts proclaim the advantages to be reaped, and many coaches base their practices on the concept of gratitude. Succinctly put, Marie Forleo the coaching maven of marieforleo.com reveals, “Gratitude attracts more reasons to be grateful.”
Yet in my own practice of mediumship, I find that for a number of people who are grieving, depressed or otherwise sad, identifying things to be grateful for can be a cumbersome task. It is for those who struggle with ferreting-out things they appreciate and are thankful for, that I write this article. Too, it is written as a reminder of the importance of practicing gratitude, that others should find this piece of assistance.
Finding what’s good in life comes quickly to some, while others struggle with the search for the good. As I scribe this article, it is post-severe hurricanes in the United States and islands south, with another on the way. It is the week of the Las Vegas massacre. Atrocities seem to be increasing in frequency and intensity. It is during these challenging times that rising above the awfulness is particularly important. Doing so not only elevates our own energy, but adds to the collective Spirit-of our Universe. It is one-little-bit that we do have control over. It is a contribution that we can make. Media coverage includes death, destruction and mayhem. Yet at the same time, the human response of goodness, kindness is overwhelming. Thank you for the love of people - their time, resources, talents and thought.
Fact is, in spite of nasty weather, we are surrounded by beauty in Nature. At this time of year fence lines can be searched for the glimpse a spider creating a web, and laying eggs. What a detailed process to be found! Be grateful for the opportunity to observe it. Sunshine can be blinding in it’s magnificent power. Feel it’s warmth and be grateful. Viewing a dairy cow in a field be grateful that it is out on the range roaming free, eating grasses that early on in the season were warmed by the sun, and fed by the rain. Thank you sun. Thank you rain. Thank you grass. Thank you cow. A mama birthed that cow; thank you Mama! The farmer owns and cares for the cow, collecting milk to be processed into a variety of products the consumer benefits from. There are drivers who transport the milk to a dairy where employees use equipment invented by a genius, to form the cheese, the milk, the cream, etc. Containers and packaging likewise are are invented, manufactured and delivered. The employees mostly are transported to the dairy by their own vehicles. What a wonderful country we live in where transportation is available to the masses, and mass transportation fabricated and used. On and on and on the obvious presents for our acknowledgement and gratitude.
Yet, we miss it. We see the dairy cow in the field, and perhaps we think, “Oh. A cow,” as we continue on. Plucking just one thing out of that field - the blade of grass, the cow, the farmer, etc. and being grateful is so important. Give this exercise that back-tracks one through things to be grateful for, by choosing anything as a starting point. “Think left and think right and think up and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you’ll try,.” Dr. Seuss encourages us!
Many years ago I was driving in a funeral procession of a fallen police officer with that jurisdiction’s States Attorney. As he lamented about the responsibility of his job as the chief law enforcement officer of that area, he wondered aloud the degree to which the general public cared about those that serve their communities. I said, “Do you realize the people that do wish you well?” He became still. I continued, “In countless churches every week, in collective prayer, people pray for elected officials, among many other people and things.” This was a new consideration for him. Prayer and church certainly are not everyone’s cup of tea. However, the point is: all of the time in the World people are praying or thinking or meditating about YOU. We pray for the hungry, the disenfranchised, the needy, those hurt and depressed, the physically and mentally ill. We pray for our neighbors, our co-workers, emergency responders, and doctors and other helpers. This holds us up. Gratitude and prayer hold us on common ground in a World brimming with differences.
Anger and hatred hold us back from being grateful. Buddha proclaimed, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Anger and hatred can be reframed with searching our souls. Plucking something good out of something opposite can be achieved. This may require intestinal fortitude. Instead, when we turn anger into gratitude, we affirm to the Universe that a life, or a thing, or an action are valuable. Joanna Hunter, a soul-centered business coach and, self-proclaimed ‘Mistress of Woo Woo’ notes, “I am surrounded by beauty and abundance.” Her constant awareness of this equates to part of the base from which she approaches the world. In her book, Get Selfish - The Way is Through, Hunter capitalizes on the premise that gratitude is the basis of a great life, resulting in the abundance we seek, and even more.
As we catch ourselves with negative thinking, writing, or using non-productive speech, Forleo cautions, “What we say to ourselves in the privacy of our own minds matters.” Marcus Aurelius, (121 180 A.D.) remarked, “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” Hunter suggests something similar, suggesting upon waking, “I am excited about today,” while noting things she’s grateful for.
“Love is simple,” a lovely song written by k.d. Lang from her album Hymns of the 49th Parallel” (2004) could have been easily retitled, “Gratitude is Simple.” It is simple. Gratitude is free. The plethora of subjects for it are plentiful. Noting gratitude is a process of awareness about ourselves and our World. Changing the way we think by making note and acknowledging gratitude uplifts us, and uplifts the World.