I was one of the lucky ones. I had two loving parents that gave me more than one could ask for in a thousand lifetimes.
We had some tough times, but what family doesn’t? Even when those tough times were happening, I was never worried. I always had a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food on my plate. In a society where seeking more is the norm, it’s easy to take these simple blessings for granted.
One day, I started reminiscing about the past and decided to call my mother. Her words:
““You would ask for things when we would go shopping like most kids but if I said no, you never asked twice. You never complained about food. You always ate what was given. Back to school shopping was a breeze because you wore whatever I bought. You were an easy child to raise. I rarely said no to you because you never really asked for anything.’”
Today, I clearly see how many luxuries I had growing up. In the past three years, I’ve traveled around the globe. I have a good understanding of the real problems facing humanity. Decent shelter, clean water, food, and clothes are still concerns today even though we live in a time where every single person can have enough, but that’s a post for another day. What I’m trying to get at is we are very fortunate. We all know this to some extent but to live it, breathe it, and be in it, is another story.
I had a mother that cooked delicious food. I had more than enough clothes and a warm dwelling. I was blessed to say the least.
Gratitude was spiritual growth
I didn’t know it back then but I was a grateful child for the most part. My parents gave me more material things than I needed but what I valued most was their presence.
The things I remember most during my childhood are the times my mother picked and dropped me off to basketball practice. Mind you, she did this while having a full time job. My father worked 6 days a week and would spend his one day off helping me with school projects. I recall needing to make a step pyramid and going to a mission style church in San Francisco, CA for a few 6th grade projects. My father never hesitated.
Today my relationship with my parents has changed. None of us live together but I’ll talk to them at least once a week. My conversations with my mom are long, deep, and therapeutic. As I become older, I see how similar we really are. Conversations with my dad are on the surface, but it’s not the context of our conversation. Instead, the presence of our voices create the unbreakable bond we have today. He’s a man of few words.
For me, gratitude was focusing on what I had and paying little mind to what I didn’t have. Perhaps this is why my mom said I was a happy child for the most part.
Parents bring us into this world. No matter what their journey entails, its because of them, we’re able to enjoy this thing called life. (tears falling as I write this)
Tears of joy are how the infinite source of the all pervading universe communicates to us.
Gratitude and joy
As humans we exhibit a multitude of feelings. Sometimes we’re sad, happy, angry, or fearful.
When gratitude becomes a virtue, then those other feelings that cause us suffering tend to leave.
Try to be grateful and angry at the same time. How about grateful and sad. Try to exhibit any other feeling other than joy while practicing gratitude. You can’t and that’s because joy and gratitude carry a symbiotic relationship.
Gratitude and abundance
My perpetual state of joy isn’t because of meditation, yoga, the food I eat, or any of that. It all stems from being grateful.
I have a list that I read most mornings of everything that I am grateful for. This is an exercise that everyone can benefit from.
As I go down the list, I start to feel richer and richer. By the time I’m done, I know I have everything I’ve ever needed. I share this feeling of abundance with anyone along my path. It’s this feeling that stirs euphoria within my soul. It’s this feeling that causes me to smile.
A smile is your soul’s resume
Gratitude is not motivation
Motivating yourself through quotes, videos, or popular figures can be helpful but they are temporary. You can be motivated one day and the next day, it’s gone.
Motivation is like fireworks. It’s a temporary flicker of an intense burst of light that goes away far too quickly. Gratitude on the other hand is like the Sun. It’s lasting and powerful.
““The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.’” – Galileo Galilei
Gratitude is a practice that allows us to carry ourselves as the sun does. Always thankful, always shining, and always able to light the world.
Gratitude is the only motivation I need to do anything worthwhile in life. It pushes me to become a better version of myself for others. I’ve been so blessed and I want to share this blessing with others. Writing has become a gateway where I can share this. I’m grateful to be able to write these words.
Contemplate on the road traveled
We live in a culture where we are constantly looking at how far we need to travel and often fail to see how far we’ve come.
Despite everything that I’ve been through and everything you have been through, we are still here. We have faced some rough times. Rejoice in the fact that you are able to see another day. Be thankful for this for it will move the needle to where you need to go in life. Gratitude is the wings that lets us fly through life with grace.
Gratitude and vulnerability
We all have scars from our past. Sometimes they may even hurt to think about. Be thankful for these scars. They are the reasons why you are stronger. If you haven’t already, please see my article, Trust in the Hard Places. I talk about how the tough times in our life is where we obtain unprecedented strength.
Despite these scars, you are still here. This is a reason to have joy.
To be genuine is to be perfectly happy with the person you have become. Your battle scars of life are your roadmap to a deeper romance with the person that matters the most in the world, you!
Brene Brown said it best:
‘”When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding.'”
Walking with my scars has given be an abundance of confidence. I have nothing to hide from anyone. I am who I am and I’m beginning to see that this was always enough.
Fall deeper into moments of joy
The spiritual path can render feelings of neutrality. I’m learning to lean into the joyous moments more often and for a little while longer. A phone call with a friend, a walk along the beach, and sometimes just enjoying a cup of coffee can elicit so much joy. I smell the roses more, so to speak.
We can all live these ordinary moments extra-ordinarily.
It’s the simple things that give us the most pleasure out of life. It’s also these moments we will miss most when it’s our time to leave this earthly abode. We can all live these ordinary moments extra-ordinarily.
My gratitude practice came into play as I almost died
A few months ago, I almost died. I was crossing the street and I saw a car approaching rather fast. I assumed he would stop, but as he got closer, I know I didn’t have a chance. He was inches away from sending me to my untimely bliss when he halted and screeched on his brakes.
Even though seconds away from my untimely bliss, my heart didn’t skip a beat.
I immediately fell into a state of gratitude for being alive. Even though this happened just seconds ago, I saw it as the distant past. I was elated that nothing happened to me. The driver looked frantic and ashamed. He rolled down his window and said:
““I’m so sorry, are you ok?’”
“Yeah, I am. I’m just glad to be alive. Don’t worry about it. You have a wonderful day.’
For a few moments, he looked at me a little dazed and confused, but then he smiled as if a burden was lifted off his shoulders.
My gratitude practice not only helped me to quickly get into a state of being thankful, but it made the driver feel at ease. I’ve made mistakes in my life and the worst feeling is when others remind you of it, even though you suffered the consequences. I didn’t need to remind him that he should have been more careful. He knows that now. I’ve moved passed it quickly and was grateful to live another day.
My gratitude practice
I wake up at 4:30 am. The first thing I do when I wake up is say, ‘Thank You.’ I don’t know who I’m saying thank you to nor does it matter. This thank you is for myself, for the world, and the entire universe, as an appreciation of another day lived and another day to look forward to.
I then read from a list I wrote detailing everything I am thankful for. I don’t just read it for the sake of it. I take my time with everything on that list and think about it, feel it, and contemplate on it.
I urge you to write your own list. Use a page and write everything you are grateful for. Do it today! Do it now if you can. You will see just how wealthy you are.
Gratitude means surrendering to what is not what will be (future) or what has happened (past).
Gratitude is spiritual sustenance that gives us light. It feeds our soul so this special light can reverberate all throughout our lives.
It creates joy that is contagious and when harnessed, this joy becomes a magnet for others so they can create their own joy.
Gratitude is its own energy field. It changes your reality and entire vibrational frequency. It’s simple and its available to us right now.
When we invite awareness into our conscious, we become the light we seek. Gratitude is the oil that we need to keep adding to this light so it won’t burn out. With it’s warmth, we comfort our soul and we unconsciously comfort others.
Gratitude is a practice.
I leave you with a short video by Tony Robbins, a teacher of gratitude and personal development.