Friday Musings: Tools for Gratitude

Shane and I seem to never cease discussing gratitude. Each time I sit down to write for IHD it seems that gratitude is somehow intertwined with the topic at hand, if not the primary theme itself.

My aim this Friday is not to continually harp on the importance of constantly finding gratitude in your life. We have said that in so many ways before. I want to reframe the practice in a way that makes you capable of overwhelming gratitude in every moment.

Getting Back to Now

Imagine any number of terrible circumstances that could befall you. In other words imagine the myriad ways that your life could be worse than it is at this moment.

You could be in crippling physical pain from some acute or chronic condition.

You could be in the depths of severe bereavement for the loss of a loved one.

You could live in different part of the world where you would be subject to political, social, or religious persecution.

Ok, doom and gloom time is over. The point of this exercise is not to dwell on all that could, hypothetically, go wrong. I ask you to imagine these terrible circumstances so that you can frame your present circumstances.

In a gratitude practice, it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to manufacture gratitude against these imagined tragedies. Saying “Well at least I have all of my fingers and toes” does not always deliver the deep and meaningful gratitude that we are trying to accomplish.

While similar, a far more potent way to leverage these awful hypotheticals is to imagine suffering them and the longing you would feel to return to this very moment, no matter how seemingly ordinary it is.

If you were to suddenly lose your family or lose the use of your legs, imagine how grateful you would be to be transported back to this moment and this state as though waking from a dream. You would cherish the opportunity to be exactly where you are and how you are now.

The truth is that if you are reading this, you are incredibly fortunate. You woke up this morning in a healthy enough state to decide to read this. You have both the good eye sight and adequate cognition to take it all in. You have the emotional maturity and psychological health to partake in this exercise. You have a computer or phone and the internet connection to make your way here. You have the freedom to do so.

The fact that you are here with me now is worthy of celebration. Imagine what it would be like to lose this freedom or have it taken from you, only to have it restored.

You have the capacity for overwhelming gratitude if you have friends, if only just a few.

If you have some capacity for movement, no matter how limited.

If you are reading this, if only for a moment.