Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Point of Gratitude

I think I've written on gratitude many times before, but it still keeps coming back to me. What I find interesting about gratitude is that our society and everything about it really isn't set up for it, so you really gotta keep it up yourself if you want it to last.

I've had some amazing experiences in my life (or I should say one seriously amazing experience in my life) that have been firsthand confirmation of some of the principles we hear about in all the self-help/personal development books, namely that we create our own realities. It's a game of semantics but when you really come to realize it it's incredibly freeing.

The thing is we tend to look at what we lack in our lives. We hear this all the time, but have you REALLY thought about this idea?

I've lived in 3 different countries enough to realize that no matter where I go, I tend to focus on what I don't have. As an example, all I can think about when I am in another country aside from Taiwan is that I don't have the good food from Taiwan, or the mobility. When I am in another country aside from the US, all I can focus on is that I don't have kale. And when I am in another country aside from Italy, all I can focus on is that I'm not hearing the beautiful sounds of Italian and that the food isn't incredible wherever I decide to eat at.
Why do we do this?

A joyful successful life is not possible without gratitude. A successful life is possible without gratitude, but a joyful one to boot is not. I'm going back to gratitude everyday now, because I'm remembering how important and essential it is. I talked to one of my roommates yesterday about this and she asked, "Is it really that necessary to do all that stuff though?"and my heart went all in (partially unexpected by me) with a huge, solid "Yes...It's everything."Because, as I explained to my friend, if we don't live a joyous life, then it will all just be the rat race and getting in and out of the rat race and running on autopilot and never experiencing anything truly amazing. It's the waking sleep, as Andy Shaw calls it (image from him):

I have a genuine desire for myself to embrace all that personal development talks about; to really soak in, internalize and realize my truth from internalizing it all, and live from that space. Because I've been there before, and being short of that is not worth living.

Back to gratitude, I have a track outside my apartment. I live in a school and the school track is a 1 minute walk away from my front door. And I sometimes get the opportunity to stop and realize how amazing that is, and when I'm running on it, really appreciate it being there. When we appreciate things instead of wondering what we'll do when we don't have them anymore, we can really lean into joy and understanding how great of a life we have, and that is pretty much regardless of the material things you have, because when I appreciate the track in my backyard, it's not about the track. Making it about me having a track is an ego trip, not gratitude. It's about acknowledgment and deep thanks for my life the way I have created it so far. It's about responsibility, not about entitlement.

I just downloaded a gratitude journal app on my iPhone (the one by Happy Tapper, I like it quite very much) and have been writing in it whenever I feel like it. I also write on a notepad in the morning or whenever I'm around it. And I also have a stuffed beanie baby giraffe I bought a few weeks ago at this toy store. It looks at me in this head-slightly-tilted way, as if saying "what are you grateful for today?" and every time I see it I make a point to say, out loud, what I am grateful for. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this information with whosevers eyes read my blog and send my deepest desires that he/she will find a way to bring a practice of gratitude into their lives as well.