There are ways I can set myself up for a more joyful, happy and productive day. When I fail to do these things upon waking my day usually doesn’t go as well as it could.
A primary activity is to recognize what is good in my life. If I wake up and simply begin my day with no recognition of all my blessings it’s amazing how different things will turn out.
Rather, when I take as little as five minutes first thing in the morning to acknowledge what I have to be grateful for I have set the tone for the day.
In years past I struggled with this concept. I was so focused on what wasn’t working that it was very difficult for me to find even one thing to be grateful for.
My spiritual teacher
It was during a period of great struggle Gloria, a woman about 20 years my senior, came into my life. As one of my most influential spiritual mentors, Gloria taught me it is the simplest things we express gratitude for that allow us to open the floodgates for more to be grateful for.
When I met Gloria I was struggling in many areas. I lived in a tiny studio apartment housed below the main living quarters of a house located across from the Russian River in Guerneville, California. The place I lived in was barely 400 square feet with a single room that doubled as a bedroom and living room. The kitchen was enough to cook in with an old refrigerator that was ready to give out at any time. The bathroom was big enough for only one person to be in it at any given time.
At the time I was doing odd jobs to make ends meet. My goal at the time was to simply survive from day to day. I didn’t get to this place by chance. It was due to poor choices I had been making for years that landed me in this place of difficulty.
Although I had read dozens of books by that point that would fit in the genre of Law of Attraction, I hadn’t grasped the simplicity of one powerful concept. I couldn’t figure out why I was struggling so much to make it from day to day.
Wanting was not enough
I desperately wanted to have a better life, but couldn’t seem to figure it out. Not until Gloria showed me how truly simple it is.
Repeatedly she would say, “It begins with the recognition and expression of gratitude for what you have rather than bemoaning what you don’t have.”
Simple enough but there was so much I didn’t have. It was easier for me to notice what was missing rather than what I had to be thankful for.
Gloria held steadfast with what she said would change my life in ways I couldn’t fathom.
It’s so simple
With one simple daily practice and the willingness to spend time upon waking and before retiring each night taking this action, she assured me my life would change.
The practice? A gratitude list. It all seemed a bit too elementary and simple to have as much power as she claimed it had for her.
“Kathleen, your best thinking got you to where you are at. Don’t you think it’s worth trying things a different way?” she would unwaveringly hold to the power of gratitude.
I’m not quite sure when I finally became willing to try it her way but eventually I began the daily practice of writing down at least three things I had to be grateful for.
What started out as a conscious process many years ago is now a part of my DNA. Today my life does not at all reflect the person I was in my thirties. Today, in my late fifties, I am in awe of the life I live.
It’s not so much the outward life, but rather my thinking, beliefs and level of understanding that it’s not at all what is going on outwardly that determines the level of happiness we experiences.
Granted, my outward is pretty darned good, but I am fully aware that the outward is a reflection of the inward.
Gratitude is at the core
Early on when I was grasping the concept of gratitude I was under the mistaken belief that if I focused on all I had to be grateful for nothing bad would never again happen in my life.
It’s not that life won’t happen, it certainly will. But when we are in the space of gratitude, even the most painful of life’s experiences becomes something we recognize as the tapestry of our life that allows us to grow into the being we have always been meant to be.
The most incredible part of this “gratitude thing” is this; the more I express what I have to be grateful for the more I have to be grateful for.
One of the things I am most grateful for is that I finally became willing to do things differently based on what Gloria taught me. When I get busy, caught up or I think there are more important things to do first thing in the morning, I simply need remember how much of a struggle life was all those years ago.
This is usually all it takes for me to simplify by focusing on what I have to be grateful for. As soon as I do I have shifted my perception and regardless of what is in store for the day, it’s all good.
What is your experience with gratitude? Your thoughts and insights welcome.