Good morning everyone! I trust this finds most of you well. If not, now is a good time for a reset.
As I noted at the outset, I necessarily started us off with longer posts, but I did promise that the rest of the week would be shorter meditations, so here we go.
When we think of gratitude we often think about the things that came into our lives. We’re grateful for great relationships. Or for whatever creates our financial peace of mind. Or for friends and loved ones. But let’s not forget about the other kind of gratitude.
We can also be grateful that certain things did not happen. Obviously, if we were deemed at risk and sent in for cancer screening and our results came back negative, then our cultures have taught us to be grateful that some very bad thing did not happen. But what about the good things?
For example, maybe we really wanted to date some awesome person after university. And maybe their rejection hurt us because it made us feel as though we were not good enough. And yet, if we ended up in a great marriage we’re very happy about, then we can be grateful for this other good person’s rejection of us. Without it we may have missed out on our good marriage.
If people have children, there will often be cases where the parent thought a relationship or a job direction might be a very bad idea. And yet, if we meditate on it, we may realize that it was the pursuit of that idea that lead to something great in the child’s life that we are deeply grateful for.
There were jobs we may have wanted and applied for and were hurt we did not get. And yet, had we got them we may have missed out on meeting our best friend at another job that was worse as a job, but better for our life overall.
In my own life, my very existence is owed to the breakage of a condom. I was not seen as good news at the time, and yet that broken condom is now the only thing that allows my parents to remain in their home when that is their central desire.
Life is filled with these examples but we are not taught to consciously recognize them. If we did, we would soon realize that our thoughts are often wrong. What we often see as ‘bad,’ can in reality be quite fortunate. If we can relax into that ignorance, we are free to happily live in the moment we’re in.
That being the case, today our jobs are to find at least five examples of ‘good’ things that we’re grateful never happened. And if we want to put the meditation on steroids, and we are working with a friend or friends on these, then I would suggest a friendly competition.
The best thing we could do is to stop our wandering minds by having them focus on finding as many of these examples as possible. Life is littered with them. And the more we find, the greater our odds are of having a larger insight about the very nature of reality.
By wanting good things that would have ended up bad, and by trying to avoid bad things that we eventually realize were good things, we expose that we are not qualified to dream our future life into existence. We’re simply too small too be able to recognize all of our opportunities.
If we can surrender into that state of acceptance by doing meditations like these, that challenges our very notion that there are such things as ‘good things’ or ‘bad things.’ And if we drop those notions, then we leave ourselves in a more flexible state of mind, even when life may be challenging.
That flexibility is a form a humility. Rather than wish for a specific future and striving for it, we live in the moment with acceptance, and we watch for reasons to be grateful. One is busy and stressful and often disappointing. The other is peaceful, reassuring, and often surprisingly generous.
So remember, today’s meditation is to find at least five ‘good things’ we’re happy never happened. If we find more, we’re closer to exposing a larger insight about the nature of reality. And, as we do this exercise, we will necessarily be avoiding any other habitual negative thinking that may have otherwise occupied our minds. It’s a win-win.
It’s that easy. Enjoy the day.
P.S. Finally, to those who have inquired about my Mom’s health, I am happy to report that her week-long stay in hospital is about to end. It seemed like a really bad thing when she went in. But after nine months of isolation, it turned out that all of the activity in the Emergency Department helped buoy her spirits. What looked like a thoroughly bad thing, turned out at least in part, to be quite fortunate. It’s good that we stay open to life, because it will often surprise us just like that if we do.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.