It all starts with gratitude. Gratitude is the bedrock, the touchstone–cornerstone–for any effective philosophy, religious dogma, or simply a way to get through life or the day successfully. Ingratitude makes for a grim and unproductive outlook on life, love and politics.
That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode.
Without gratitude, there is an inescapable emptiness; not a yearning, but a feeling of being ungrounded. This makes for a fertile ground for resentful thoughts of unfairness or “Why me? Or worse, comparing ourselves to others.
If you immediately question what–if anything–you have to be grateful for, let’s take a peek at that.
- Did you get up this morning?
- When you did, did you have ready access to running water, maybe even hot and cold running water?
- When you go to the store, grocery or whatever, do you have multiple choices in almost every category?
- Oh, and did you have transportation to and from the store?
- And did you wake up in the most prosperous, diverse and free country on earth?
I start my day 6 days a week with the same set of foam roll and ab exercises. Faithfully. It helps to set me up for the day in a very positive way, and it helps my body to be ready for everything from the stairs (it is about 40 steps from the lowest level in the house to the highest–we even have steps from the garage leading into the house), snow shoveling and, yes honey-dos. It also makes me happier and more confident.
A set of gratitude exercises, reminders, really, would do the same for my spirit. It would set me up for the day in a very positive way. I am letting you know, you as my accountability group, that I am starting today to make that a 7-day-a-week routine. A routine prayer, really.
We have all heard about the power of positive thinking. Basically, think good thoughts and good things happen. Gratitude is the necessary foundation for positive thinking.
The reverse is also true; complaining sets up a moment or a day in a very negative way. Let’s try an experiment together. First, complain about some things in your life; a spouse or partner, child or parent. A boss or co-worker. How you have too many bills, and not enough friends who care enough about you. A recent snide remark from an ungrateful child, or not being able to find anything in the newly rearranged grocery store. Are you with me? Now say some possible complaints out loud, for example, “Everyday I try to get Pat to stop squeezing the toothpaste in the middle. How hard can that be?” And another, “Drew was a jerk to me today at work. And after all I have done!” Did you say these things out loud? Now, try to have a clear and convincing positive thought. How’d that go? What did you feel like? Productive? Ready for anything? Maybe not.
Now let’s try thinking about Pat and Drew differently; same people, same situations, but our reactions and thoughts are different. “Pat brushes twice a day; I appreciate the fresh breath and the almost complete lack of cavities.” Or, “In the past, Drew has always been helpful on projects; wonder what’s wrong. I hope everything is OK.” How did that make you feel? How did that set up you for what might be next? Better?
We are surrounded 24/7 with things we can–and should–be openly grateful for. If you have access to running water in your home, be grateful. One in three people on the planet don’t have access to a decent toilet, and one in nine don’t have clean water close to home. How about electricity? We all get frustrated when the power goes out; when it returns, our response is likely to be, “Well, finally! What’s with those people?” Over 1.2 billion–with a “B”–people don’t have any electricity to lose in the first place. Their power is always out.
OK, your turn. Going from water and electricity, to freedom and opportunity, add some things that you are grateful to have. Take your time. Write them down. Then tell people. And be sure to tell the people to whom you are grateful, that you appreciate them.
Let’s pause for an important distinction: Gratitude is not the same as contentment. The masthead of the Denver Post used to include the saying, “There is no hope for the satisfied man.” Being grateful for everything you have does not mean that you have to be content with everything you have. Some people confuse, “I’m grateful.” with, “I’m good with things the way they are.” Being grateful does not mean going limp. In fact, it takes more strength and discipline to be grateful than to complain. We all can–and should–strive for improvements. And setting new plans and striving, pushing–is best done while resting on a firm foundation of gratitude.
Remember, it all starts with gratitude. And not just starts with gratitude; gratitude is the foundation for everything good. Just as it is the foundation for breaking out of where you are, breaking out of being satisfied with what you have and who you are. Gratitude is indeed the foundation for everything good in our lives.
Remember that list you wrote down? How about sharing what you are grateful for with us? I, and the others who share Revolution 2.0’s mission, care about what’s important to you.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.