Cultivating Gratitude

Have you ever noticed that you can’t feel gratitude and misery at the same time? And that gratitude, once unleashed, has an overpowering effect on pretty much everything else? That you start to see things you didn’t have eyes to see before you let thankfulness waltz through the door?

Lately I’ve been feeling all kinds of buzzy with a bubbling sort of happiness I haven’t felt in a really long time. And apart from the fact that I have several days of alone time to enjoy for the first time in years (I am not exaggerating), I can sense something else is at work here too.

It’s a combination of things. On a whim, I dug out an old yoga CD I had bought for my son when he went through a particularly painful growth spurt. After one session, he lost interest and I was left with the best, most efficient yoga workout imaginable. Then, as life took twists and turns, I laid it to rest for several years. Until about ten days ago when I knew I’d be behind the wheel of a car for days on end. Needing some preventative maintenance, I packed my laptop, yoga mat and the CD, laughing at my own ambition and not believing I’d do it even once. But then, that first day, when the creaks of 500 highway miles nestled painfully between my joints, I whipped out my equipment and downward-dogged my way to wellness in 15 minutes. The next day followed with another session, then another the day after that. I am convinced it is what put a smile on my face (and kept me focused amidst mid-car teen angst and aggressive fellow drivers).

The payoff spilled over to other areas once we got home. The heart joy grew, the giggles too. My meditation practice started to flourish again. I drank more water than wine. The heart grew another inch, outward and upward as I realized how very grateful I am for life. For my friends. For my family. For the work I get to do every single day. For the Freiburg sun and the Freiburg rain.

For the cherished purpose of life itself.

Yes, cultivating gratitude leads to more gratitude, which leads to more joy and a lot less pain. And when the fear lurks beneath the surface of things, I remember to breathe the air of thankfulness for that piece as well.

Fear has the potential of raising our awareness or just raising our blood pressure. It is up to us whether we grow the eyes to see the bend in the road we are meant to follow.

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