Exactly what is gratitude, anyway? One definition I found is "a heightened awareness of your connection to everything else."
It really made me think about how everyone and everything on this planet is connected. We all need each other.
I decided to set aside some time at least once a week or so just to remind myself of some of the wonderful things I have in my life and to realize just how lucky I am to be able to experience this life. This makes me focus on the good things in my life and reminds me of all the reasons I have to be happy.
We Are All Connected to Each Other
Just think of the endless list of all the people you are connected to in one way or another:
- the people who made the materials used to build your house and the people who built it
- the people who made your furniture, your bedding, your linens, your curtains
- the people who planted, cared for, and harvested the crops that make the food you eat
- the people who work in the store where you bought your food
- the people who made the cars, trains, buses, planes that you use and the people who make them run
- the doctors and nurses who work to keep us healthy
- the teachers who teach our children
- our parents and their parents and everyone who came before us
Show Your Appreciation
Remembering to show your appreciation to as many of these people as possible can go a long way toward sharing these good feelings. We can't really thank everyone personally, but why not "pay it forward" with simple acts of kindness. I know these phrases can be used so often that they lose their meaning, but actually making the effort to make a connection to a stranger can help make both of you feel better than you did before.
Little things done enough times can add a lot of happiness to the world and costs so little. What does it cost to let someone in line in front of you? Or invite someone to merge into traffic in front of you? Hold a door open - for a woman or a man.
In Japan, before eating, the custom is to say itadakimasu, which means "I humbly receive." It is a thank you directed toward the person who prepared the meal but also to everyone who had a hand in growing or making all the ingredients plus to the sun for sharing it's energy, the earth for nourishing the plants and to God or mother nature for making it all happen. Of course the word alone means nothing unless the speaker takes the time to think about what is being said.
Be sure that you don't take it all for granted or allow yourself to feel entitled. Remember what Joni Mitchell sang, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."
As I was preparing to write this blog post tonight, I ran across something called The Gratitude Experiment. Like 1,537,876 people before me, I signed up to be a part of their experiment. You might want to try it, too. They send 42 short daily emails related to gratitude.
And, finally, check out this post at my favorite blog, Zen Habits, written by Leo Batauta. He has 250,000 subscribers that must agree with what he has to say.
And thank you very much for reading my blog. I appreciate all my readers very much. (I've had some problems with Blogger tonight. I have my fingers crossed that this will come out as I wrote it.)