One of the most powerful tools you can acquire on your journey, is an attitude of gratitude. This simple lesson can begin transforming your life in the very moment you pick it up and begin to use it. Being able to focus on what you are grateful for is a potent exercise in breaking down the barriers of separation and isolation. It generates a concentration away from the negativity and lack that pervade an unhealed existence.
Once we become aware of our focus on gratitude, we quickly benefit from the depth of that feeling. We recognize the inner change that occurs when we shift our attention from our lack, to our blessings. The transformative power of this asset is like no other, and can alter your mood and outlook immediately, if you only allow it.
When we pause to distinguish what we are grateful for, we begin to drift away from the negative feelings experienced in the previous instant. We are no longer focused on what we don’t have, but on what we do have. Lack cannot exist in the same moment with gratitude. It is similar to light in that respect. When we concentrate on our blessings of life, we become aware that they represent the rising sun across our dark valley of lack, now suddenly illuminated. Like a candle introduced to a dark room, the light may not permeate every crevice, but it allows a new perspective on the illusions that darkness seemed to foretell.
We are able to travel without it, but if it’s inner peace you seek, gratitude must become your companion.
Meandering through the maze of life, we discover the impact our ability to make choices has on our reality. It’s the recognition of that ability that often eludes us. Our focus on this recognition shows how these choices have become our reality.
Look around you. The life you are experiencing is the culmination of all the choices you have made leading up to this moment. These selections from the menu of your life have brought you to the spot where you stand. Are you pleased with what you see? Is it fulfilling, peaceful and satisfying? Or, are you filled with frustration, fear, and anxiety as a consequence of the drama and chaos that have shown up, again?
If you take a moment to make a list of everything in your life for which you are grateful, you will be amazed at the immediate shift in your perspective. Include everything, no matter how small, insignificant, or unimportant they may seem at the moment. They all add up and represent a light in your illusion of darkness.
The first time I did this practice, by the time I got to the end of my list, I had forgotten what I was complaining about! Go ahead, try it. You have the opportunity to begin in this moment, right now, and make a change in how you view your world, your life, your self. When your list is completed, put it in a prominent location in your living space for a while. Study it daily. Add to it, focus on it, remember it, and before you realize what has taken place, this becomes the new way of looking at your life. Now you focus on what you have, not on what is lacking. You have successfully chosen your attitude of gratitude, and now you can begin to incorporate it into your daily routine.
When you feel yourself swirling with confusion, just stop spinning. You always have the power to face your choices, accept responsibility for them, and determine that the rest of your life begins at this moment. The noteworthy goal of this exercise is your acceptance of the role you play in this drama we call life, and your resolution to make the necessary changes for the better.
Once this begins to show up as a habit, you will experience life from a joyful perspective. Your focus shifts to the endless possibilities that exist. You turn away from lack and don’t allow it to assume a role of importance any longer.
There is a certain simplicity involved in this unfolding. Life is a succession of choices. We have the ability at every crossroad to establish a new direction, attitude, goal, method, or belief. If the old ones no longer ‘grow corn’ for you, if you aren’t receiving anything positive from these actions, pivot from this tired site in your life. Hold the thought of a fresh, positive approach to your next step, and begin to change the course of your life by changing your awareness of your active participation and responsibility in the choice presented in this moment.
Pivoting from negativity and lack provides an opportunity to re-create the reality we face. Once we become sensitive to the active role we’re taking, the realization of constructing our new reality develops into a grand creation of limitless proportion. The architect of our existence is suddenly no longer outside of us. We remember when we point a finger of blame at another, there are three fingers pointing back at us. We identify our responsibility easily and actively engage in responsible creation, henceforth.
The ways we respond to life are learned behaviors. We are mostly products of our upbringing and environment. We do not arrive on this earth with predetermined feelings of violence, lack, fear, isolation, or separation. We learn it. Much of whom we have become is directly related to what we have experienced from the people and physical environment that surrounds us. If we have learned this conduct, we can unlearn it. I like to call it reprogramming.
Once we become aware, we have a remarkable opportunity to seize control of our Sacred vehicle, and begin to retrain our minds, and hearts, to respond in a good way, a way that truly serves our higher purpose and, All My Relations. By doing so, we have made an impact on everyone around us, because we are all connected and, therefore, everything we do affects everything in the universe.
When we approach these opportunities, how will we view them? Are we victims of some unexplainable universal plot out of our control? Are we focused on the negative aspects of current situations? Do we view the cup that represents our life as half-empty, or half-full? All these aspects of who we are, have enormous influence on where we stand on our life path at this moment and what posture we assume.
Before answering these questions, take a moment to probe a little deeper. When facing a moment of crisis or trauma, do you respond from a place of fear? Do you immediately begin the downward spiral into drama, confusion and chaos? Are you in defense mode? Do you revisit the haunts of low self-worth, low self-esteem and never having enough? Is your immediate response to life’s challenges, “I can’t.”?
Utilize the awareness in this moment to pivot your focus and reinvent your outlook. All it truly takes is removing the old prototype and replacing it with one which will support you in your fulfillment of making necessary change. Again, this isn’t something we decide in one moment and then are finished with forever. Spiritual practice is exactly that – practice. To become proficient at anything we must do it over, and over, and over again. It takes as long as it takes, and the only judgment involved will be the judgment you bring along, and attach to the exercise and its outcome.
To view this challenge as a moment of empowerment, choose the path of “I can”. Focus on your gratitude and redirect your stance. Take a moment to examine your emotional footing, and then move forward from this place with a fresh outlook of positive alignment with your true self. Know that the way you view these uncertainties will help determine the outcome. Life is teeming with opportunities to help us feed our souls. Starving is only one option.
We tend to spend an inordinate amount of time ‘telling our story’ and rehashing the traumas of the past. If we continuously look behind us for the nourishment we need, aren’t we trying to feed from our own graveyard of past experience? When your soul craves the food it needs to nurture and maintain its healthy growth, why seek out the emaciated and lifeless sustenance of your dysfunctional past? Instead, turn and walk towards the feast that is supplied by the promise of endless possibilities. Use this incredibly powerful visualization when you feel yourself sliding into your old patterns of wounded victimization. See the graveyard, then see the feast. Which one do you choose?
Walking hand-in-hand with gratitude ignites the Universal Law of Attraction. This law upholds the belief that whatever we concentrate on is what we ultimately draw into our reality. With this possibility in position, we begin to alter what we actually accumulate. Our awareness shifts to the understanding that everything that exists in our present moment is here because we have drawn it to us – we have created it.
The soul calls to itself what it needs for its healing and growth. It has a deep understanding of what is required to move forward from the place of pain, abuse, fear, and violence, and return to the place of peace and solace that it seeks. With this in mind, we can begin to understand how the situations and people we attract into our lives are not for punishment or torment, but are the teachings and situations necessary for our healing and growth.
An Elder once shared that these teachings can all be viewed as beautiful Medicine blankets richly woven with the fibers of intensity represented by their colors. When we finally determine there is no longer a need to struggle with the situations in our lives, we can consciously recognize and remove these blankets, being careful to give gratitude for their presence by treating them with respect. Fold them neatly, give thanks for the potential wisdom they carry, and place them carefully with all the others that have come and graced your life.
The perspective we take on any event has a direct effect on how we ultimately experience that event. Therefore, claiming a positive outlook and probing for the deepest understanding will assist you in your alignment with your true self.
The impact these simple practices can have on your life experience is remarkable and astounding. Once your practice becomes your life, you will begin to witness the budding and blossoming of the incredible flower that is truly you. As you open each perfect petal, you have the capacity to experience beauty and joy as you may never have experienced them before. We are beautiful, intelligent, powerful, creative beings that hold the capacity for creating great love, compassion, and kindness. We all have the ability to express our journey as a mission of love, or a mission of fear. There is no judgment regarding the one we choose. We are free to use this gift in any way we determine for ourselves. I tried the fear package far too long and now embrace the vast potentiality that accompanies the love I create in my life.
Life is an incredible reflection of itself. Like a spider web, if there is movement on one thread it ripples throughout. This applies from the microcosm to the macrocosm, because we are connected to everything. If we feel something here it is also felt there. Every thought, word or deed is in universal relationship. Every personal wound healed helps heal the wounded collective.
The next time you begin to succumb to mood swings, alert yourself to the peril that lies ahead and recognize your feelings. Remember to pivot, reflect on your gratitude and understand that what you focus on is what you will call to you. It’s your choice – make it the one you truly want to experience.
Once you have determined that there is a Teaching facing you, this awareness can lead you to clear examination of the attributes it carries. Do you recognize the wisdom within the situation, or are you only focused on what you are feeling because of it? We have a tendency to stir up so much dust with our drama of victimization that we are blind to the rich blessings of the food of spiritual evolution placed before us.
Someone once shared a unique concept with me. The universe is made up of energy and there are many levels of existence throughout this vast expanse. If one were to view this earthly plane from a higher perspective the energy of ‘Teachings’ might all look the same. It appears different to us as it is happening, because we see this energy as the emotion that we attach to the event. We control whatever that emotion is. We make the choice of joy or sorrow, love or fear, pain or bliss. We choose how we respond. When we consciously realize we are making a choice, we’re able to change the old pattern, make a new choice, and move forward on our path as a newly empowered being.
These old patterns hold us back. They keep us from becoming who we came to be, and from doing what we came to do. It’s all in the perception we have of ourselves. It becomes the way we view our lives and the decisions made within those lives.
I recall the day of a powerful revelation in my life. I had discovered a veil of illusion wrapped tightly around me, like a cocoon. I had done a very good job of disguising my latent anger and debilitating rage. I knew something wasn’t right. I felt like I couldn’t breathe because this fear grasped me so tight. It felt all-encompassing. I felt constricted by it, but the harder I struggled to free myself from its grip, the tighter it seemed to hold on to me. I finally realized there was no exterior force tying me in knots. I was the one entombing myself. The more I lied to myself about the origin of the woes and trials that were before me, the more intensely I felt their manifestation within my body. I began to develop physical symptoms of illness. I could literally feel my body beginning to give out and give up under the weight and destructive abilities of my past burdens. Something wasn’t right and I knew it.
That’s when I began to scrutinize everything that showed up on my path. Everyone and everything around me was my Teacher. No matter what spiritual path we follow, we all receive signs and signals from helpers along the way. Surrender your ego and ask for guidance and assistance. That assistance will come from your own wisdom.
Your life is a blank canvas and you hold the palette and brushes. Isn’t it time to end the struggle and start surrendering by listening to the numerous voices of wisdom that surround you? Isn’t it time to begin scrutinizing the choices that are always available?
Once we begin to break out of our old patterns of self-defeat, the new practice of awareness becomes easier. As with anything new in life, we may not reach a level of comfort, or develop a new habit until we refer to it on a regular basis. Give yourself permission in challenging moments to stop, remove your focus from the emotion you’re feeling, and look for something within the present situation to be grateful for. It’s hiding in there somewhere camouflaged by your emotional charge. Don’t give up! If it doesn’t surface right away, keep digging. Leave no stone unturned. As the spotlight spans to the gift of gratitude that lies within your teaching, you are then able to release the shackles of old, imprinted patterns and reemerge as the butterfly awaiting its first flight of freedom.
Keep listening for the truth that lies beneath your old patterns and don’t stop flapping your wings. As we fly, we gain momentum for the rest of our journey, and strengthen our capabilities. Your journey to unimaginable heights of insight continues from this moment and you are now aware that you guide the course taken.
Have gratitude for your ability to listen and soar to new heights!