The Art of Gratitude
Every morning we wake up to a new day. The Dalai Lama has this to say about Gratitude and Kindness: “Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive. I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” We have so much to be grateful for especially the little things that matter the most that we don’t even think about. These things include the following:
Sometimes the best thing about coming back home after a hard day at work is getting into a hot shower or bath, relaxing, cleaning yourself and feeling refreshed. After that you might sit down to dinner with a big glass of water which hydrates you. The next morning you may get up early, relieve yourself in the bathroom, put on that workout gear and go for a run with a bottle of water in hand when you need it most. Water carries nutrients to the body, helps to regulate body temperature, cushions the joints and provides lubrication in our eyes. Without water swallowing becomes hard, muscle spasms occur and you may experience nausea. Severe brain dysfunction occurs and within three to five days of not drinking water our organs and brain shut down – pretty scary to think about. But did you know that 663 million people – that’s 1 in 10 – lack access to safe water, 2.4 billion people – that’s 1 in 3 – lack access to a toilet, twice the population of the United States lives without access to safe water and globally 1/3 of all schools lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation. At the end of the day you really should be grateful for the fact that you have such easy access to water when so many don’t and see it as the precious commodity it is.
2. Your Senses
As I’m writing this I have an ear infection – a really bad infection. The infection is so bad that I can hardly hear through my left ear and it scares me. My balance has been affected, I can’t listen to music properly and I’m asking people to repeat sentences to me. I know it will go away – hopefully sooner than later – but I have never been more aware of my senses than now. There are over 70 million people in the world who are deaf. Above that, 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired. Added to that, more than 200 000 people visit doctors each year because they have a problem with either taste or smell – think about that next time you cook or order a really good meal. Some people also suffer from disorders with touch. It’s really important to show gratitude for your senses – the fact that you can wake up to a beautiful day, watch the sunrise, hear the birds chirping, cook a beautiful breakfast and enjoy the aroma and taste. Give thanks and take time to appreciate the beauty of this world that you assimilate through your senses.
There are people all over the world that are lonely. They haven’t connected with anyone and are just waiting for a special connection with that special somebody just to have fun with. Friends are there for you through the good times and the bad. They are there through all the break-ups, celebrations, the ups and the downs. It’s important to cultivate friendships and help make them grow. Be good to your friends and pay attention to them. Engage in conversation. Be grateful for the friends you have because sometimes you just need a really big hug or someone to listen to you at the end of the day and that’s what they are there for.
Shakespeare’s stories are classics that will stand the test of time. So much work was done by him by candlelight and even his plays had to be done at certain times of the day since there was no artificial lighting. In some countries, such as South Africa they have power shortages every month if not every week. People are stuck in the dark. Students can’t study for tests, food can’t be cooked, you can’t even have a warm shower or bath. Electricity runs everything – from the computers we work on to charging the cell phones we speak into every day. Appreciate electricity – there are so many people that live in rural areas that don’t have access to the kind of electricity we experience every day.
Transport certainly has advanced through the ages. From walking on foot and riding horses to riding bicycles, motorbikes and driving our own cars, catching trains and busses, transport has developed so much over the ages. People travelled across continents by ship to get around, explorers discovered new countries and the Wright brothers made the first plane. People can even fly into outer space! Now, all you have to do to travel abroad is hop on a plane and within the next few hours land in a new country on a different continent – simply amazing. Interesting to think about this when currently the Syrian refugees are doing anything to leave their country – by foot, by boats – some not surviving the great journey. Next time you are in your car smile and be grateful that transport is so easy for you.
Ways to show gratitude
A really beautiful way of showing gratitude is by doing a gratitude meditation every morning. Simply light candles early in the morning before starting the day, call upon any force you feel protects you from G-d to the angels and anyone you spiritually feel connected to and give thanks to the Universe. Be still and start thanking the Universe for all that you have from the amazing dinner you had the night before to the cheerful grocery man that smiled at you and made your day. After giving thanks to everything you have in your life start giving thanks to the things you wished you had in your life as if you already have them. Lastly I like to say “Thank you Universe/G-d/Angels for blessing me with a beautiful day ahead. Your life will change once you start doing this and you will start to find pleasure in even the smallest of things. Lastly, be grateful that you can even show gratitude – the world is your oyster, appreciate it.