It says in one of the texts (can’t remember which) that when the Buddha first got enlightened, he stood up and looked in gratitude for seven days at the tree that had sheltered him while he meditated. That’s before he even went off and ‘turned the wheel of the Dharma’ (told people about his epic trip and started the ball rolling for others to get enlightened too).
It’s easy to find things that are wrong. Our minds seem predisposed to finding the lack.
It serves a purpose – it’s one kind of motivation. It helps us to grow.
Some people become multimillionaires solely out of utilising this kind of motivation.
Lots of others stay poor and just get old and bitter.
For humans, simply remaining the same isn’t an option. If we’re not growing, we stagnate, ossify and actually diminish. Growing is a good and necessary thing.
But being aware of what’s currently wrong is only one way to motivate yourself.
There’s another way, and it’s more fun.
By focusing on what’s right, we also change and grow. This kind of growth is based on peace, contentment, fun, excitement – good stuff like that.
The biggest obstacle to growth isn’t contentment, it’s fear. But that’s for another post.
The attitude of gratitude practice
Cultivating an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is a great way to grow while feeling surrounded by abundance and contentment.
Here’s a practice you can do. I do it quite a lot cos it’s fun, and when I’m feeling grumpy it gives me some perspective.
It’s an easy practice. You just dwell on things that you’re grateful for.
If you’re not grateful for anything, you think about things you *could* be grateful for.
Once you’ve got it in your mind, you try to feel it in your heart. The feeling is the important thing.
Things you can be grateful for
Let’s start with your life. Some people don’t feel grateful to be alive, but everyone who’s been close to death is grateful.
This one’s easy for me, since I very nearly died a few years ago of a brain haemorrhage.
I’m fairly ambivalent about life, but I know how many people would’ve been shattered by my death, so I’m really grateful that didn’t happen. And I’ve done plenty of cool stuff since I survived the brain haemorrhage and I’m grateful for that.
Then your body. Or if your body gives you many problems, think of the parts of your body that are working well. If you’re in a lot of pain, feel grateful that you’re strong enough to take the pain (you must be strong enough, cos you’re doing it).
I don’t want to spark anger in people who are suffering, so I’m not going to do a big “reasons why you should be grateful” speech. It’s up to you if you want to experiment with this.
So here’s just a few ideas: life, body, loved ones, books filled with amazing knowledge, all the great films and TV you’ve ever seen (someone else made that and just plonked it in front of you – piped it right into your house!), activities you like, all the wisdom you didn’t have to work out for yourself, healthcare, technology, music, electricity, piped water on tap, relative freedom of speech and some kind of democratic process, the unknown wonderful experiences that are waiting in the future for you that you can’t possibly even imagine right now…