An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving today in Canada and so I present you this fresh edit on the notion of gratitude. Have a wonderful day everyone. I am grateful to have you to write for. Much love.

An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s funny where gifts can come from sometimes. A friend of mine has had a few pretty challenging years—you know, big stuff. Serious health concerns, bigger than average job stresses, all while she’s had to deal with some big family issues like death and dementia. Life is like a card game and right how she’s in the midst of a run of less-than-easy hands to play. And then she got her gift.

555 Relax and Succeed - Life is full of give and takeThe strange part was, the guy who gave her the gift has next to nothing himself. He was on TV. He was there to try and raise money to be sent to people like him, but instead he gave her a gift. She was trying to get caught up on some overdue paperwork and to get her kitchen cleaned and in her head she was adding up all of the balls she was juggling. The more she entertained the thoughts of how busy she was, the more things she remembered. By the time she noticed the guy on the TV she was getting pretty low about her situation. And then she saw his.

Of course, if the guy’s on a program like that then he’s a representative of that huge section of the world’s population that is just happy to have made it from one day to the next. This guy was a 12 hour a day rickshaw driver with no health care, a government hostile to his existence, no financial security net of any kind, and he had to provide for numerous children who he loved very much. Those were the facts of his life but he still beamed with gratitude. His walls may have been made of whatever was available and his meals might be meagre, but he remained grateful that his family was together and that he had any shelter at all.

My friend’s initial reaction was guilt—she had so much compared to this guy and yet she was sitting there complaining. But the guilt quickly turned to questions. Why was this guy so happy when he had so little? She watched him talk about his life a little longer. It turned out it’s because he wasn’t paying any attention at all to what was missing or what would make life easier. He only accounted for his good fortune. Yes, the hands with bad cards were there—but to him that was just life. He focused on when he won. In the end this poor have-nothing guy gave my upper middle class friend a huge gift. It was like he uncovered all of the things in her life that she had been taking for granted.

555 Relax and Succeed - If you were on your death bedIt’s a cliche, so people always brush past it too quickly, but it’s worth your time: how exactly are you more fortunate than someone in a third world country? This can seem like a chore to calculate until you do like my friend did and realize that it’s not mythical—you do have a lot to be thankful for, and your life is better when you’re consciously aware of it. Having a full belly or a healthy family or the support of good friends—these are all gigantic things when they are missing.

The act of taking something or somebody for granted is easy for all of us to do. It simply means that we have ceased to think about the benefit we receive—it is presumed. It’s not that the value isn’t there—it’s just that you’ve stopped counting it. You’ve stopped adding it up.

It’s a natural progression that we would move from gratitude to complacency and back again—one needs the other to exist. But we are still better to spend as much time in a state of gratitude as possible. Because if we live like that, then it’s possible for a super-poor guy to give my rich Canadian friend a valuable gift.

555 Relax and Succeed - The things you take for grantedSpend less time today thinking about your own plights. No matter how difficult things are, do your best to consider the challenges of the people around you. The insults they would face, the physical challenges, hunger, the constraints of poverty, or even just being cold, or sleeping without a mattress let alone a roof….

The odds are if you’re reading this then you’re probably better off than at least half the planet if not 98% of it. So rather than tell yourself and others about the 10% of your life that genuinely does suck, focus more on the 90% that doesn’t. And do that selfishly. Because sitting there at her kitchen table my friend’s life hadn’t changed one bit from an hour earlier. But still that third world guy managed to help her feel like one of the richest people ever. And you can feel that way too.

Make today a day where you earnestly pursue gratitude as an objective in your life. Make it a priority. Make that a habit and you will absolutely have changed your life. Now go create a great day with your choice of what you focus on. Because that’s the only place great days ever really came from anyway.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

The Friday Dose #9 – Brave New Worlds

It’s a cool week. I get to put a lot of really interesting stuff in the Dose each week. But I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited about a week. Because there’s a lot of people bitching and a lot of people lost and a lot of people hurting, but overall the world is moving in a wonderful, beautiful, marvellous direction. And today we’re looking at two signs of that progression. Isn’t it exciting to be living through a renaissance!

329 Relax and Succeed - In zen the important thingI’ll start off with an absolutely wonderful article from Psychology Tomorrow Magazine. In it the writer writes about a man whose life was very different from, and yet in many ways almost exactly the same as, my own. His route was extremely similar from an internal perspective, but I find it fascinating how he had virtually identical internal experiences and yet they were created by external circumstances that were remarkably different. Certainly every quote from him in the article is something I either have said or would feel entirely comfortable saying (although I actually can fill in some of the remaining blanks noted). I sometimes work with my friend Christina, and I can’t help but think that she has/will laugh when she reads it because his points sound so much like me. It’s a great article and it points to a brighter future for our world. Enjoy:

The Neuroscience of Suffering – And Its End

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You may have seen a recent Scientific American article talking about how we’re learning that elephants are much smarter than we realized. I can’t help but wonder if the elephants are learning we’re not as smart as they thought. 😉

329 Relax and Succeed - All animals deserve protectionWe have to change our ideas of Human Beings being masters of this Earth. There’s no reason for us to believe that except hubris. Because we can talk and manage energy to the point where we can overrun the planet does not mean that we own it. Who were we to put up fences? Who were we to invent the idea of property? Pretty bold. But we’re hitting a wall in numerous ways. And people can feel it. They’re looking for something real. Something intense and beautiful and unrecreatable. They want life to be more of a Mandala, where they can intricately build aspects of themselves and then destroy them in order to engage in the act of creating another. We’re getting less interested in things and status and more interested in experiences. This is a good thing.

As regards the video: I remember seeing this guy many years ago, before he’d learned as much as he knows now. By using his own experience rather than other people’s teaching, he found new ways to approach old ideas. In the end his discoveries seem inevitable. It would be counter-intuitive to even consider that he might be wrong. It just makes sense. And it makes you wonder what this world will look like if we all start raising all the world’s children to have this level of connection capability. It’s one of the best videos on the internet. Enjoy:

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Have yourself a wonderful weekend.

peace. s