The other day, I was standing under the sky (as we always do), and observing the movement of the tree’s leaves in the wind. I was suddenly very aware of the contact between my feet and the grass. Very conscious of how the earth was exerting the equal and opposite force UP at my feet as I was pushing DOWN on the earth. A beautiful, perfectly balanced dance. I brought my awareness to the sensations running through and around my body: the breeze and I became one, the goosebumps prickling my arms were simultaneously me and an expression of the universe. And, when tears were streaming down my face, and I kissed and was kissed, it were as though stars were kissing stars. Every moment since the Big Bang had lead up to THIS, to THIS moment: to THIS reality. Every breath I had taken, every choice I made, had lead me here. To this indescribably beautiful soul. Under this beautiful tree.
And I cry because it- life, everything, this moment, THIS- is so impossibly, unthinkably beautiful.
And I cry because I pray EVERYONE could feel how I feel.
This isn’t a performance. This isn’t a masking of something nasty with something superficially nice. This isn’t perfume spritzed on something that smells.
Gratitude will not change the lens through which you view life, it will change life itself.
Let me give an example:
You are eating dinner. Your ‘objective’ reaction is a reaction to how disgusting it is.
You have a few options which could all be perceived as being ‘positive’:
- You lie and say it tastes great.
- You force yourself to find an element that you do like about the dish, thus simultaneously avoiding lying and also seeing the silver lining to the cloud.
- You have reached a state where the food genuinely tastes good. It tastes good because you were hungry; and all food tastes wonderous when you are hungry. It tastes good because your body is turning matter into fuel and energy for all your cells. It tastes good because you are chewing, you are shallowing, you are digesting. It tastes good because eating and food are miracles. This isn’t a forced mentality, this is a realisation and actualisation of the truth.
(Remember that YOU, and ONLY you, are in control of your reactions. For, as a wise soul reminded me, what is taste but the interaction between YOUR mouth and the food? Therefore there IS no objective ‘bad’ or ‘good’.)
Often, practising b leads to the state described in c.
Often, we do have to actively search for positives/gratitude, because we are in the habit of being ungrateful.
This is why people write ‘gratitude lists’. To remember the good, and train their minds to see the good more readily and frequently. And these lists are certainly a good tool for training your mind. Below are a few more simple suggestions for mind-gratitude-training:
- Write lists of the highlights of the day/week/month. Then, next to it, write down to who or what you are grateful for realising that highlight.
- Write lists of the struggles and lows of the day/week/month. Who helped you through these times? What supported you? Write these down.
- Write lists of what you admire in your friends and family. What traits, what values do you see in them that you respect and admire? In what ways have they therefore inspired you to live your life?
- Stand, lay or sit. Go through your body and thank each part for it’s role in your life. Thank your legs for allowing you to dance, walk, climb trees, swim, ice-skate. Thank your lungs for converting air into energy for all your cells. Thank your mouth for blessing you with the feeling of taste, of kissing, of laughter, of expression and communication. Go through absolutely everything you can think of and thank each part one by one. Thank yourself for your health, for your talents, for your skills, for your insights, for your qualities.
When I say ‘write lists’, take it with a pinch of salt. You don’t have to literally write a list to be grateful. Having the thought, sitting with it, letting your gratitude flood through you, observing how it makes you feel- observing the gentle smile that’ll rise onto your face- and sending loving thoughts to the people/ places/ opportunities/ things you are grateful for is implied when I say ‘write lists’.
But I’d like to return to an idea I made earlier: being (deeply and honestly) grateful, is your ultimate truth.
Remember your awe when you were a child? Remember the delight you took in every single thing you did? Remember a time where everything you heard was new and exciting and a realisation?
What a beautiful time! A time of curiosity, fun!
THIS is your truth. It is sapped out of you by the learned behaviour of your parents, siblings, school peers. But you CAN find this state again.
What is Mindfulness?
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading about it recently, and wish to share my findings and musings soon. If you’re interested, watch this space, and I’ll be glad to continue this discussion and provide my personal insights/tips for leading a mindful life.
But, for now, I’d like to emphasise the importance of gratitude in our daily lives, and highlight how we can all train our minds to be more grateful, with a few easy steps and realisations.
Gratefulness saves lives.
It, literally, saves lives.
I’m sure that one day I will be able to share my story about gratefulness and how it saved the lives of those around me, but until I reach that point, I will regardless never stop emphasising its importance:
Ultimately, gratitude is what lifts the haze from over your eyes and heart, so that you can see- with total clarity- the beauty and wonder of living. And so you can bless every soul you meet with an open mind and loving eyes,
Love, Sophia x