“We can be thankful to a friend for a few acres, or a little money;
and yet, for the freedom and command of the whole earth,
and for the great benefits of our being, our life, health, and reason,
we look upon ourselves as under no obligation."
— Lucius Annaeus Seneca
[Classic post from 4-23-11]
In the last few years, I've known of a lot of businesses that closed. I did not know but a very few of the people involved in those businesses. In recent years, I've known people who have lost their homes. Again, very few did I know personally, but I have known some. Those are large events in our lives and there are many more events like them. It is constantly changing and evolving.
In those kinds of events, I used to become upset, angry, blameful, and sympathetic, with a willingness to discuss the situation at length to emphasize the sadness in the change–especially if it were happening to me or someone I knew well. I stopped that a couple of years back, and it is this resultant blessing that I want to share today.
I've said before that the main ingredient that changed my life away from that kind of reaction is gratitude. Even more than this, simply appreciation.
You see, it is so easy to be grateful, thankful, and appreciative when something delightful is happening. It's easy to have and express gratitude when things are going according to or better than planned. That is good, yet it is so limiting.
It is when things go awry (I've always wanted to use that word!), like the walls are crashing down, you've given your all and it missed the mark, and you just can't keep up with the tide of things–that's when gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation take on a whole new dimension that is not only helpful, it is a life-changing blessing.
I didn't say it was easy, because it isn't; however, once embarked on this journey, it becomes easier and more beneficial with practice.
On the way to an appointment today, the thought came to me that when people are being conservative, they can no longer see opportunities. Just by virtue of the act of conservation, it is a tightening; a closing in, and opportunities that could normally be seen are hidden from view. In the same way, it is impossible to see abundance when you are focused on lack. It's not even on the radar.
So, the trick is to turn your focus using what will you might have left, toward focusing on something other than the lack; something other than the conservation. You most likely will not yet see abundance or great opportunities, but just turn your focus away from what is, and attempt to find just one thing to be grateful for, thankful for, or in appreciation of. Just one. Then go for two. Then three. Now you're on a roll. Keep it up. Go for five, six, and more. Expand that gratitude to anything and everything in your life and those around you.
Now turn to some of the things that you were thinking were going wrong. Find one thing that it might be possible to be grateful for in it. Just one. Then go for two. Even if it sounds lame at first, go for two. Then three, four, and so on.
As you do this, the opportunities that have been there all along begin to appear as if they were invisible and then became visible. You might even wonder why they weren't there before.
You will find that as you practice this in every area of your life and especially those things that would have previously left you devastated, you will find that your new reaction to these events is one of relaxed joy, relief, gratitude, appreciation. You will find opportunities abound and stress completely dissolved.
“'Tis Nothing Good Or Bad, That Thinking Makes It So." — William Shakespeare
Spread Some Joy Today–Don't act the way people think you should act when things are not going well for someone. Empathy is one thing, but sympathy is an illness.