I am grateful, dear Universe, for the chance to catch my seven-year old's tongue out while he was hard at work. He is such a thoughtful person, and much of the problem-solving and discovery happens on the inside for him, that watching him work can be a complete thrill for me. It reminds me of things like, Holy crow, THIS guy exists! We made him. When he was a wee guy we marveled at this all the time. As the kiddos grow and learn to do new things all the time the moments when I am simply grateful that they exist on the planet have become more spread out. Until they are engrossed in squishing clay and the "I'm working hard" tongue pops out again. Perhaps it's also a practice in gratitude that helps the lens focus more sharply.
This past year I have been keeping a gratitude journal. Initially it was a solution for getting to bedtime too tired to write in my journal and missing the ritual of writing. It evolved into a great little check-in, and also a reminder that what I focus on expands. I try not to list the same things, which keeps my mind working on the game of "what haven't I expressed gratitude for yet?" One night, my daughter asked to draw on something and thought this journal on my nightstand could work. Now the kids and I, when it fits in the bedtime routine, fill in the gratitudes together. That in itself added a whole new layer of possibility! One thing I noticed was that I am not grateful for "stuff" the way they are. My thinking is that gratitude for "stuff" is too high-minded for me. Edwene Gaines is a Unity minister and prosperity teacher whom I know and love and she says, "Because I am faithful in small matters, my Lord makes me master over great matters" There are no small parts, no "stuff" too superficial on which to waste gratitude. High-minded creates the problem, it prevents me from purely being grateful. The mind loves a limitation and practices like gratitude help me to stay present and uncensored.
I have walked away from this post a few times now and what I notice is this resistance in me to talking about just the good stuff. Reasons to justify not feeling sunny about the state of our world are plentiful, what right do I have to go on and on about the power of gratitude? I know people who say that they don't watch the news because it's so negative, and I struggle with this thinking. I know how easy it is to use the concept of positive thinking as a crutch and filter out anything that isn't pretty. 49 people were killed in Orlando, 29 people were killed in Istanbul, millions of bees have died, there's significant evidence that things are not at all sunny. I find myself wanting to spin things good so that the bad stuff is essentially glitter-bombed, thinking it will make things better. I am innocent in this, so are you if you recognize this tendency in yourself. We are wired to make sense of things and have learned that there are two compartments, Good and Bad. As I practice living closer to reality, I am noticing that life happens and events occur that get assigned meaning by my thinking. I can ignore the news or I can watch the news, it won't stop the things reported on the news from occurring. I can only change my thinking about reality, not reality. A really common analogy for new moms is the airplane emergency: first put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping someone else. The idea is that we cannot give what we don't have. The practice of gratitude helps me access more easily all that I have to give. What is possible for our world when we each are focused on the depths from which we can give?