When we feel gratitude toward a person, place or thing, we tend to nurture it. We don’t want it to “go away” from our life. When we don’t feel grateful for something, when we don’t give it the tender-loving care required for growth, it can wither away and die out from our life.
When I was in Hawai’i, I learned the power of gratitude. It was easy to do there; even if I was sleeping on a tent platform for the first two months. I woke to the sound of birds chirping, and when I stepped outside, I had a gorgeous view of the ocean below. The weather was always perfect, the sun was shining. Gratitude for all that surrounded me came quite easily. I realized how much richer my life was when it was smothered and covered in gratitude. I appreciated so much, and in that appreciation, I showed love. In exuding so much love, I was given love in return. Unfortunately, the people who were on the land before our group weren’t grateful for what they had. They didn’t tend it well. After almost 10 years of leasehold, their renewal was denied, and the farm began to shut down within a couple of months of our arrival.
Think about it. Have you ever had a person, job or car in your life that you weren’t grateful for? You didn’t look forward to going to work. You didn’t look forward seeing that person. You hated that damn car. They all eventually went away or changed (or they very well should have because, if you didn’t transition away from those things, there’s another set of issues to be dealt with).
I worked on an estate (after the farm) in Hawai’i. When we arrived, I was grateful for what we were being given in return for our work. Unfortunately, the work quickly became overwhelming and more physically demanding than my partner and I had anticipated. It was obvious the estate owners were not grateful for our extremely intense workload that they kept piling on, and their lack of gratitude permeated the situation. It soon became difficult for us to be grateful for what we had because what we had was a reminder of what we were doing for it. We were working our asses off with no energy left to enjoy our surroundings. Within four months, the situation changed. I made it clear to the estate owner that her intense lack of appreciation for what she had was a big problem for us. We couldn’t be grateful in a situation where our energy wasn’t being appreciated in return.
I came back to the mainland for personal and family reasons. I was sad to leave the place that I feel (deep within my soul) is my true home. But when I got back to Arizona, I was grateful for all of the love I received from my friends and family.I was (gratefully) humbled by my two very disparate situations on the island, and I am a very different (hopefully even better) person for my experiences.
It’s easy to run down the list of the things we don’t have. It’s easy to get yanked down into negative ways of thinking when we’re constantly wanting and never quite happy enough with what is right in front of us every day. That needs to change. At some point, we have to be satisfied, no GRATEFUL, for what we have in our lives. I am grateful that my body is still healthy after years of not showing it the proper gratitude it deserves. I am grateful that, while I don’t have a bed to sleep on right now, I have a comfortable space on the floor of a room where I’m safe and near my friends. Life is just better with gratitude. I could be lamenting my lack of car, the intense heat of the Arizona summer, my lack of money… but what would wallowing in my “lack of” serve? My gratitude serves not only me, but those I come into contact with.
Think about what you’re grateful for. Write those things down. Remember to make a habit of being grateful for them, and it will show. Being thankful for your body shows in how you feed and care for it. Being grateful for certain people in your life is rewarded with even more love being shared with you. It’s amazing what the power of such a simple thing like gratitude can do for you. Sometimes the most difficult habit to cultivate is remembering THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING TO BE GRATEFUL FOR.