The Power of Gratitude
As the Thanksgiving holiday is winding down, many of us are left full, stuffed and lighter in our pocket books (for those who took advantage of Black Friday). Isn’t it funny (as it was pointed out by one of my Facebook friends) how we were encouraged to spend large sums of money on the things we were told we should covet, when the day before on Thanksgiving, we were celebrating how grateful we are for what we have today?
Being content with what we have, or being content in general is hard for most of us. It definitely goes against our American-ness. We go through most of our day striving or dreaming about more; more possessions, more money, more success, more recognition, more everything. It reminds me of the saying, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” But can we? Isn’t there a point where we know we have enough?
A friend of mine recently experienced a series of hardships where just about everything went wrong. She referred to her life as a “spectacular mess” as she was faced with joblessness, near homelessness, bankruptcy, and severe health issues. Frequently feeling overwhelmed, she confided to me that the best way she handled her difficult life situation was to get through things one day at a time. She didn’t look too far ahead, and she didn’t allow herself to dwell in her negative past. And then one day the remarkable happened, but it wasn’t due to a miracle, cure or quick fix. Her mindset simply changed with the realization that there was no need to look outside of herself. She finally figured out she had nothing to lose. She stopped defining her life by her problems. Without her fear, she had everything. There were no assets to her name and she felt unencumbered. She stopped worrying about being seen as a failure, her professional reputation no longer mattered, and when she suddenly realized she had little influence over the unpredictable nature of her health, she stopped trying to force things in a particular direction. There was nothing she could control. She understood that she had enough of what she needed, and even more. And she was free. And she was grateful. And she accepted the good with the bad.
The Dalai Lama’s name can be interpreted as an “ocean of wisdom”. Now is the time when we are called to tap into the holiness within ourselves, and connect to the ocean of gratitude. Here we are free to experience its mysterious depths filled with a sense of deep satisfaction, the peace brought by the calming ripples of the tides rushing against the shore, the clarity of the clear blue water when viewed from the edge of a precipice, and love, limitless, like the vastness of the ocean, with no beginning and no end. Gratitude is a great gift, one that we must allow ourselves. And when we feel we don’t have enough, all we have to do is to turn inwards, to enjoy the freedom, joy and abundance contained within.