The fullness and richness of gratitude is perhaps what we should aspire to in each passing moment of our lives. Anthony De Mello is quoted as having said, "You sanctify whatever you are grateful for." Renata has shared that Swami Satchidananda often said, "You want to be great? Be grateful." Paul Grilley has shared that his spiritual teacher, Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama, has insisted that by being grateful for every single situation and event in your life you can reach enlightenment in this lifetime. And Julio Kuperman, long time yoga student and very dear friend, often reminds me of the origins of words used to offer gratitude. Merci in French indicates Mercy; Gracias in Spanish and Grazie in Italian hint at the Grace required for gratitude. Danke from German comes from the root "to think." Perhaps we can think with mercy and grace to arrive at gratitude.
Being grateful for what is good and special in your life is easy. When you catch a 'lucky break' or receive a special honor, for example, gratitude easily flows from the pores like sweet scent from a honeysuckle. Finding sincere gratitude when things are challening, frustrating or painful, however, is a true practice. To remember that life's difficulties often lead to the greatest rewards, and that we discover our true mettle through adversities, is to remain peaceful and grateful no matter what the arising moment brings.
Remembering to be grateful for the many gifts and treasures already present in your life is the antidote for taking anything for granted. Running water, heat, electricity, ample access to food, people to love and love you, sunlight sparkling on the water, the smell of chocolate cookies baking, the soft fur of a kitten, the gurgles of a baby ... these are some of the greatest gifts of life, and yet we often brush past these obvious luxuries to complain about the many things we perceive to be lacking. It's occurred to me that taking something for granted is the opposite of gratitude. If we make something sacred through gratitude, then perhaps we desecrate anything we take for granted.
As we look around at all the gifts we enjoy in life, I firmly believe it's important to be grateful for the gift that YOU are to the world. To see and celebrate your own goodness and talents and uniqueness; to not only see your 'shortcomings, failings, or inadequacies.' Toward the end of my Grandmother's life, as she looked through photo albums of her life, she quietly remarked, "I never knew how beautiful I was." This is probably true of all of us; revel in your own splendor!
As we head toward the holiday season and end-of-year festivities, hopefully we can all remind ourselves of the richness and fullness of our lives, exactly as they are. I'm confident that everyone receiving this email is blessed with tremendous abundance, relative to the rest of the world, even if it doesn't always seem that way. All of us have the choice to spend energy focusing on what is wrong and who to blame, or we can invest our most precious resource bowing down in reverence before each situation, regarding each moment as a blessing.