The Amazing Power of Gratitide
The time of year when our nation takes the opportunity to giving conscious attention to all for which we have good reason to be thankful is soon approaching. It seemed to me to be a perfect time to take a moment to acknowledge the amazing power of gratitude.
One of the things in life that I know for sure is that practicing gratitude is one of the most important things you can do to insure your happiness and well-being. The practice of expressing gratitude is something I begin teaching my hula students in my babies class of four to seven year olds. We begin every class with a circle where we share one thing for which we are thankful with the class. I do this because I know from experience that expressing gratitude at the start each day creates a positive beginning of our day. By introducing the concept at such an early age it is my hope that later in life they might make gratitude a daily practice.
Consciously expressing gratitude can become your habit. Anything we do with regularity becomes a habit. We need to be aware of the habits we practice. Anger can be a habitual practice - a habit - or our habit can be to express love and understanding. Moving forth in the world with courage can be a habit, or being passive can be our way of being. Anything we do regularly becomes our habit. I practice the habit of expressing gratitude for the many blessings that each brings in such abundance.
But what if what the day brings us is hardship, or grief, or disappointment, or pain, or rejection? How do we practice gratitude in the presence of such things? We can remember that everything in life can be either a lesson or a burden. If, even in the darkest times, you can ask yourself, "what does this difficult time have to teach me, either about myself or about life?" this experience can be a teacher. If we can make it our practice to say "thank you" even in the face of great stress we can discipline ourselves to practice gratitude. This takes discipline, and discipline comes from doing it, and what you develop from doing it is will power. Will power comes from the willingness to just do it, and from that comes power. The definition of power is strength developed over time. So now you are no longer at the effect of your problems, you are developing mastery over the problem and over yourself. Your tool is gratitude.
Difficult times can be the greatest teacher. What a different experience these hard times can be if we accept them as a learning opportunity. I have gained my greatest wisdom through enduring and learning from very difficult and painful experiences. It is important that we let our mistakes be our teacher.
Practicing gratitude does not make our difficulties any easier to go through, but wisdom can be on the other side of the pain. Self-knowledge and spiritual refinement can be the prize. The sad truth is we rarely learn any valuable life lessons when life goes smoothly. It is in the face of pain and hardship that life teaches and refines us if we are but willing to be open to the lesson presented in this time of difficulty. And being willing to embrace the experience in gratitude is the key to earning that hard-earned wisdom.
Know that you are strong enough to survive it, and smart enough to learn the lesson so that you need not repeat this particular lesson again. Learn to stay "thank you" in the times of greatest stress and hardship.
I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to each of you, my virtual students, for the encouragement and support you have gifted to me and to RealHula through the years. I join you in reflecting on the many blessings that we all enjoy and often take for granted. Happy Thanksgiving. May you and yours be blessed.