Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Attitudes of Gratitude

When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them - Chinese Proverb.

Have you heard of this saying? "Attitudes of Gratitude"?

I have heard the name, the topic over and over again lately and started to research it. Maybe it is timely, due to Thanksgiving approaching in 2 weeks, but really it is a concept that is time-less.

Basically, it is a way of thinking, a mindset, if you will.

We live in a society of entitlement. And, even people who are kind and considerate, get caught up in thinking that we are owed things. In short, life owes us nothing. God owes us nothing. Other people owe us nothing.

Entitlement is a feeling that we are owed something. It is permission to get angry, feel upset, frustrated, bitter and resentful when we do not get that which we think we deserve. Entitlement is a lie.
The idea that we are entitled to anything is a justification of our negative feelings, a claim within our own minds.

Instead of feeling that we are owed a vacation, a great job, a big house, children, money --- these are entitlements --we should feel responsibilities. Through these acts of "good" (for lack of a better word), we should feel blessed.
This awareness is a state of mind that is powerful, fulfilling and rewarding.

Ask yourself this...

Am I entitled to respect and to be treated fairly?

No. There is nothing in this world that can guarantee this. (Fairly, as in everyday life, not social injustices or abuse, but day to day living, the mundane aspects of life, the daily hurdles that we all face).
But, when I am treated with kindness, in a fair manner, it is a gift. The kindness that others show me is a blessing.

Letting go of the "entitlement" thought process is freeing, both spiritually and psychologically. I have found that when I am grateful, when I am actively seeking to be grateful, I am free. I am happy, focused and productive. I am not weighed down with negative thoughts, not weighed down focusing on the bad things that happened.

When I am grateful, I am light as air.
This way of thinking, is nothing new. Many religions encourage gratitude - be it a prayer of thanks before a meal or charity work. The belief system that I should be grateful, to recognize, appreciate and enjoy these gifts in everyday life is EXHILARATING!

The next 3 weeks will be very busy for me, (at times they can be overwhelming) - between the upcoming holidays, weekend classes with the girls, tennis responsibilities, the holiday fair, work deadlines for the big show in Boston and a medical issue that I am dealing with.
I took on the "attitude of gratitude" over a week ago, before my responsibilities began to pile up. I am blessed that I had this epiphany, as it has given me the ability to focus on how very blessed I am and from that, I have gained the strength to work through my responsibilities and issues.

Rather than worrying (needlessly) fretting uncontrollably, I have been able to consider topics that concern me and give some thought to my choices. I believe that I am blessed, truly blessed with my family, my husband and my children. Sure, there are things in life that are challenging -- we all have these everyday. But, I have a clarity and a calmness that was missing from my thoughts, even just a few weeks ago. I have a wonderful life.

I find myself, getting upset, or even angry at the little things that happen in daily life, someone cutting me off on the road or a rude receptionist. When this happens, I say to myself sincerely (or the poor soul who is with me at the time) "I am very lucky that _xy or z_______" and look for the silver lining on the storm cloud... "I am lucky that the doctor could see me in 2 weeks" or " I am blessed that I was paying attention when that car ran the red light".

I am truly blessed that I have been able to change my attitude so that I am happier in life.




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