Gratitude Can Change Our Lives
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. — Meister Eckhart
I went to a friend’s birthday party recently, a dear, old friend who I hadn’t seen her for almost a year. And what a year it had been for her. Illness, loss, and despair were frequent visitors. This time she seemed lighter, younger, more vibrant and alive. She told me that she finally decided to be grateful for her life, for the friends and simple pleasures in her life. She reported that as she began to practice gratitude every day, the simple act of noticing and focusing on the good had changed everything.
Outwardly speaking, the intervening year hadn’t been much easier – a partner in the hospital, economic cutbacks, daily challenges. But by simply sitting on the back porch and allowing the feelings of appreciation, wonder, and delight to enter her awareness in a conscious manner, she had taken back her life. When I asked what she was grateful for she simply said, “Everything, the animals, the garden, my friends.”
As I stood at the top of the deck overlooking the garden, I saw the celebration below. Friends were gathered, laughing. There was a golden quality in the warm sunlight. A soft breeze gentled the petals of flowers whose names I’d forgotten. Two dogs tussled in the yard. A long table was set to honor my friend with platters piled high. Life was good.
I believe that gratitude created that scene. Through the conscious daily practice of turning from despair, my friend began to see with new eyes. Often when we feel overwhelmed, we forget to notice the good all around us. We can begin to set in motion a subtle shift, to look past the hard times and honor the good. Each of us has much to be thankful for. We’re alive. There is beauty in the world. There is so much beauty in us. Whatever hard times we might be going through, we can remember that they will pass and we will celebrate once more.
A subtle shift in awareness can begin to make us feel alive again. A little dose of gratitude every day, sincerely felt and taken in, can produce a heart overflowing and a life worth celebrating.