“I will be happy when…..” I have said these five little words a time or two in my life. We all have, right? We are conditioned to believe we cannot be happy until life is perfect, but when is life going to be perfect? Never.
Stringing those five little words together reveals a great deal about who we are, and more importantly, our gratitude quotient. We will be happy when we are married, divorced, have kids, are thin, in shape, have our dream job, or all of our bills paid. Maybe we will be happy when we have achieved enlightenment, understand the tongues of men and angels, or meditated with the Dahli Lama. We can literally fill in the blank with a thousand different answers, but the reality is even saying the words indicates we are not happy now, today, or in this moment. Maybe the lesson we are to learn along life’s journey is as simple as tossing the pursuit of happiness out the window and choosing to live from a place of gratitude?
Most of us have a basic understanding of gratitude, right? We are grateful for our families, pets, jobs, the food we eat, a roof over our heads, health, all the typical stuff, but if some or all of these things were suddenly taken away would we still be grateful?
Being grateful for what we have and living from a place of gratitude are two very different concepts. Learning the difference and how to live from a place of gratitude requires us to travel inward on a journey of discovery. Gratitude emerges from centeredness, and we cannot be fully centered if we do not understand who we are. In a world of conformists desperately avoiding conformity, we miss the point. We are all unique creations of Divine Love, of God, and as unique creations conformity does not exist. To be fully centered means we accept and appreciate our Divine nature, live and breath and move from our uniqueness, and seek to be like no one else in the universe. We are comfortable in our own skin, with who we are.
Gratitude does not continually focus on what is ahead, rather focusing on contentedness in the moment. Gratitude acknowledges the gifts in this moment are enough. So, are we not to plan for the future, have goals, desire more? Planning and seeking the desires of our heart is not a bad thing, nor are they mutually exclusive of gratitude. We can be grateful and at the same time set our sights on what is ahead, accomplishing the goals set for ourselves. Many live in a state of stress from seeking the elusive “when”. When is like tomorrow, it never comes. If we are waiting to be happy until we have achieved a set goal we are not ever going to be happy. We may reach the goal, but reaching the goal does not create happiness. Reaching the goal simply means the task was accomplished. Momentary happiness experienced when reaching the goal does not arise from a place of centered gratitude.
Centered gratitude is a state of being, not a feeling. Feelings can be fickle, fleeting, and inaccurate. Feelings are often a result of our perceptions, not the reality of a given situation, and happiness, or the lack thereof, is a feeling. To get to a place of centered gratitude we must practice mindful gratitude during all the minutes of our days, not just think about it once in a while. Mindfulness is being present and living fully in the moment. Mindfulness is the practiced awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings, accepting the moment and its thoughts and feelings as they are; viewing the whole through a non-judgmental lens without reliving, justifying, defending, or rehashing. We spend far too much time dissecting the moment’s of our lives, looking for opportunities to control situations and people. There is no place for the “I shoulds”; “I should have said”, or “I should have done” in the practice of mindful and centered gratitude.
Mindful, centered gratitude brings peace to the spirit, allows the spirit to be peaceful even when chaos surrounds. Live in the moment, be grateful for the moment and all the blessings within the moment. In reality, this moment is all we have…..